Real Estate - Commercial

Independence Mall Owner Buys Sears Property For $10M

By Cece Nunn, posted Aug 11, 2017
New York-based Rouse Properties bought the 15-acre Sears property in Wilmington from Sears, Roebuck and Co. for $10 million on July 13. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
The company that bought much of Independence Mall in Wilmington in June also purchased the Sears portion in July, New Hanover County records show.

New York-based Rouse Properties bought the 15-acre Sears property from Sears, Roebuck and Co. for $10 million on July 13, according to a deed filed in New Hanover County. The property includes the 185,000-square-foot Sears building that was constructed in 1979, property tax records say. Rouse paid about $44.4 million to previous owner Centro Independence for a larger portion of the property, 44 acres, in June.

A Rouse spokesman said Friday the firm had no comment about the Sears purchase.

Rouse bought much of the mall after the previous owner defaulted on a $110 million loan. The loan portion of the property was nearly 500,000 square feet, including the JC Penney wing, of the more than 1 million-square-foot mall, and foreclosure proceedings went on for a couple years.

Rouse is planning what the firm calls "a sweeping redevelopment" of the indoor shopping center at 3500 Oleander Drive, including adding a grocery store anchor tenant and opening up some of the space, according to the firm's website.

Although the website describes the plan in general, Rouse officials have not yet announced more specifics about the redevelopment.

Wilmington's Sears has not yet appeared on any of the lists of store closures the struggling chain has made public in recent years. Elsewhere, Sears has closed hundreds of stores, including Kmart locations (the Kmart in Wilmington closed about four months ago) and Sears department stores, in the past few years.

For now, the Sears Auto Center and Sears department store at Independence Mall in Wilmington remain open.

Sears officials had no comment about the Independence Mall transaction.

"All I can tell you is that the store is open, operating and continuing to serve our customers and members in the Greater Wilmington area," said Sears spokesman Chris Brathwaite in an email Friday.
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