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Closed Sears Stores Could Face the Wrecking Ball

The shutdown of 142 Sears stores this year will leave a hole in many malls and neighborhoods around the country—and in many cases, that hole could be a literal one.

A report on CNBC suggests that property owners of the shuttered locations will likely demolish the former Sears stores rather than look for another retailer to fill the space.

Put simply, there just aren’t a lot of major retailers who can easily slip into the locations, which tend to be 10,000 square feet or more. While some non-traditional companies, like U-Haul, are exploring the idea of taking over a few locations, mall anchors like Macy’s just aren’t interested.

Even if the building owners found a potential tenant, it would likely require substantial renovation costs, amounting to as much as $100 per square foot. In contrast, it costs $30 per square foot to demolish a building.

Demolition is already underway in Aventura, Fla., where mall owner Seritage did away with the closed Sears store at Esplanade at Aventura to build an open-air center that will focus on fine dining.

There could, of course, be a lot more abandoned Sears stores in the near future. Chairman Eddie Lampert has offered to buy the remaining 500 stores for $4.6 billion. Some creditors have said they’d prefer to liquidate the company than sell to the hedge fund, however.