62 years after the opening of Sears’ first “one-stop shop” on Long Island, the popular retailer has packed it forever into the area.
Sears’ last store on Long Island, in the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa, closed its doors to the public Sunday, according to Urban Edge Properties, the Manhattan real estate investment trust that led a partnership that bought the mall in December.
“We look forward to working with our partners and community leaders to redefine space and create new value in the property,” Urban Edge said in a statement on Wednesday.
The company intends to redevelop the mall, and the installation space occupied by Sears is critical to this plan, according to documents Urban Edge filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
On September 29, Urban Edge reached an agreement with parent company Transform Holdco LLC of Sears and Kmart to terminate remaining leases at Sunrise Mall and Bruckner Commons in the Bronx and The Outlets of Montehiedra in Puerto Rico effective October 15, according to Urban Edge’s SEC filing. Edge.
The deal called for Urban Edge to pay $20 million to regain control of the spaces, according to the filing.
Urban Edge wrote: “Control of these installation spaces is an important aspect of the company’s value creation plans to reposition these spaces with uses that appeal to the respective communities where the properties are located.”
The company declined to reveal its plans to redevelop the Sunrise complex.
Transform, which operates under the Transformco name, did not respond to Newsday’s requests for comment, which included a query about how many people were employed at Sears in Massapequa.
Sears occupied 10,086 square feet on two floors in the mall.
The department store opened in October 1995, taking up space previously occupied by Stern.
The Sears closure leaves three broadcasters — Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Dave & Buster’s — in Sunrise Mall, a 1.2 million square foot estate on 77 acres along Sunrise Highway.
The mall has a high vacancy rate that continues to rise.
As of June 30, the vacancy rate was 34%, according to Urban Edge’s second-quarter earnings report. By comparison, the average vacancy rate for malls on Long Island in the second quarter of this year was 5%, according to Costar Group Inc. Inc., a company that provides information on commercial real estate in Washington, DC.
While Sunrise Mall is accepting new tenants, “short-term leasing is the focus as we are evaluating the long-term plans for the property,” Urban Edge said Monday in response to Newsday’s inquiries about the mall’s plans.
Urban Edge declined to say if it allows existing tenants to renew their leases or for how long.
Sears opened its first “one-stop shop” on Long Island, on the Bay Shore, in October 1959, according to the Newsday archive.
But Long Island has lost nearly a dozen Sears and Kmart stores over the past few years as chains struggle across the country.
In 2005, the then parent company, Sears Holdings Corp., had about 3,500 stores across the country. But mired in debt and the loss of shoppers to discount retailers, Illinois-based Hoffman Estates closed hundreds of stores for years before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2018.
Sears Holdings’ assets were acquired for $5.2 billion in 2019 by Transform, a subsidiary of ESL Investments Inc.
But Transform has continued to close stores.
Under the ownership of Sears Holdings or Transform, 11 stores on Long Island have closed since April 2018: Sears stores in Hicksville, New Hyde Park, Garden City, Lake Grove, Valley Stream, Massapequa, Kmarts in Farmingville, West Babylon, Riverhead, Huntington and Seville.
There is one kilometer left on Long Island in Bridgehampton.