The vacant 94,000-square-foot former Sears store, located at the north end of the shopping center's second floor, has been leased to discount retailer Forman Mills. | Bob Uphues/Editor

The commercial real estate broker in charge of marketing the former Sears store at North Riverside Park Mall, 7501 Cermak Road, announced on Jan. 17 that his company had reached a deal with a new tenant.

Joe Parrot, vice president of retail services at CBRE tweeted that the 94,000-square-foot, second-floor anchor space at the north end of the mall would be the future home of Forman Mills, a New Jersey-based discount retailer with 44 locations in eight states, including seven locations in the Chicago area.

“This was our 5th lease in the redevelopment of the former Sears box, transforming a former department store into a vibrant destination with entertainment, fitness, grocery, medical & apparel uses,” Parrot tweeted.

It’s not clear when Forman Mills will begin building out the second-floor retail space or when they might open. Parrot did not return a call from the Landmark seeking additional information.

Glenn Lindholm, general manager of North Riverside Park Mall, said on Jan. 19 that Seritage had not notified him about the lease agreement, though Lindholm was aware of the social media post.

“We’re excited to get somebody in there,” Lindholm said.

Forman Mills was founded in Philadelphia in 1981 by Rick Forman, who’d gotten his start in the late 1970s “selling T-shirts, sweat-shirts and sportswear in local flea markets on weekends,” according to the company’s website.

The company’s first warehouse store opened in 1985 and the clothing racks are still jammed with T-shirts, sweats and sports apparel, though Forman Mills also sells some housewares, luggage, toys and shoes. Forman sold the chain to a New York investment firm in 2016.

The former Sears anchor property comprises the two-story, roughly 180,000-square-foot retail box that anchors the mall’s north end, the freestanding 20,000-square-foot former Sears Auto Center and the parking lots directly north and west of the shopping center, which include about 760 parking spaces.

That entire package is owned by Seritage Growth Properties, a real estate investment trust created to purchase Sears and Kmart retail properties and optimize their value by attracting new tenants as the legacy retailers disappeared.

Sears initially consolidated its retail operation into the second floor of the anchor space in late 2017 and then closed the store outright in 2020.

The entertainment venue Round One leases about 45,000 square feet of the anchor box’s lower level, with Amita Health occupying another 10,000 square feet. Seritage is marketing 25,000 square feet of the lower level that remains vacant.

Blink Fitness moved into the former Sears Auto Center in 2020 and occupies about three-quarters of the building. At that time, a Mexican restaurant had eyed the roughly 5,600-square-foot space remaining in the former auto center, but the deal fell through. It remains vacant.

Last year, Seritage confirmed that it had reached a deal to bring a new 20,000-square-foot Aldi grocery store to the north parking lot of the former Sears property.

Seritage’s planned unit development application for the new store will be considered by the North Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission at a public hearing scheduled for Jan. 27 at 6 p.m.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hearing will be conducted remotely. Anyone wishing to attend is asked to contact the village by Jan. 24 to obtain an online link. The phone number of village hall is 708-447-4211.