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June 24, 2021

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Boulevard mall investors buy Sears building, in talks to develop parking lot

Boulevard Mall Continues to Evolve

Steve Marcus

A view of the Sears store in the Boulevard mall Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Sears sold its building to the mall but continues to operate the store.

Boulevard Mall Continues to Evolve

A dinosaur statue is shown at the Rex Center, a family fun center under construction, in the Boulevard Mall Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Launch slideshow »

Sears Holdings Corp. sold its building at the Boulevard mall to a group of investors earlier this month, clearing the way for development of the massive parking lot around the store.

Talks with potential new businesses are underway, a mall official said.

“Those kinds of inquiries and discussions have already taken place,” said Timo Kuusela, vice president and general manager of Sansone Companies, which operates the mall. “Where our heads are right now is what is the highest- and best-use scenario. We’re trying to hit that nail on the head.”

The Sears store is not going anywhere. As part of the sale, which closed Oct. 9, the building’s new owners are leasing the space back to the venerable retailer.

Because the new owners — a company called 3450 S. Maryland Parkway LLC — are affiliated with the investors behind Sansone Companies, improving the mall and developing the land around the store should be easier, Kuusela says.

The parking lot around Sears, much of it along Maryland Parkway, would be ideal space for fast food restaurants and companies like Starbucks, he said. Investors would like to do more than simply fill the space with the first interested party, Kuusela says.

“We do have several companies we’re talking to, and we can probably accommodate all of them if we did pads or individual users,” Kuusela said. “A silver bullet for using it all is one of the things being contemplated. We don’t want to put something in now just because it’s easy, which will block us from doing more later.”

Kuusela says a “village concept“ and a hotel are options.

But in the short term, Kuusela said, having new cooperative ownership of the Sears building will help in planning mall improvements.

“For (Sears), the goal was to maximize the value out of holding that real estate. And if they had any rights to withhold permission for what we wanted to do on the master site, they would do that and pay us. So now we have a clear pathway to doing what we want to do.”

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