By Bob Uphues
Sears, the retail giant started in Chicago in 1886, appeared to be on the verge of liquidation Tuesday, after a bid to save Sears by the company's chairman appeared to fall short.
Attorneys for Sears Holdings Corp. were in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York, on Jan. 8 where they were expected to ask Judge Robert Drain for permission to liquidate after company officials rejected Eddie Lampert's $4.4 billion plan to save more than 400 Sears and Kmart stores and tens of thousands of jobs, Reuters and CNBC reported Tuesday morning.
In addition to Lampert's bid there are reportedly two other bids, both from liquidation firms, for Sears' assets. The formal auction of the company's assets is scheduled for Jan. 14.
Sears Holdings Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October and a month later the company announced plans to auction off 500 stores, including the one in North Riverside Park Mall.
Sears leases about 90,000 square feet of space in the upper level anchor space at North Riverside Park Mall from Seritage Growth Properties, a firm created in 2015 to buy Sears' real estate holdings and make them profitable by closing or downsizing Sears retail outlets and replacing them with other tenants.
In North Riverside, Sears originally occupied both the upper and lower levels of the north anchor space at the mall. In late 2017, Sears consolidated the North Riverside store into the upper level.
Since that time it has leased half of the lower level to Round One, a family bowling/entertainment complex that opened its doors on Dec. 22, 2018. It has started building out part of the other half of the lower level in order to attract more tenants.
If Sears' liquidation goes through, it would be the second of the North Riverside Park Mall's anchor tenants to vanish in the past year. Carson Pirie Scott, which occupied the west anchor space, closed its doors last summer.
That would leave J.C. Penney as the sole anchor tenant at North Riverside Park Mall. Late in 2018, J.C. Penney stock crashed to below $1 per share, though it has since recovered somewhat. As of Tuesday, J.C. Penney stock was selling at around $1.40 per share.
Meanwhile, on Dec. 28, Sears Holdings Corp. announced the closure of 80 more Sears and Kmart stores in addition to the 182 stores the company announced would close back in October and November.
The latest round of closures, which includes two Sears locations in Illinois, are expected to be completed by the end of March.