The Sears store at 302 Colorado Blvd. will close in April of this year. The closure follows the sale of the location to a real estate investment company in 2015 and no definitive plans have been announced for a replacement business.
Sears has been announcing waves of store closures in the past few months but the Santa Monica store is not on any of those lists because it isn’t owned by the Sears corporation.
In July of 2015, Sears created a new independent, publicly traded real estate investment trust named Seritage. The new company took control of 235 Sears/Kmart stores and joint ventures with several mall operators including Simon Property Group, General Growth Properties and the Santa Monica based Macerich Company.
Under the terms of the $2.7 billion deal, 224 stores were leased back to Sears but Seritage has the right to end some of those leases and find new uses for the property. Seritage recently exercised that right for the Santa Monica location.
“Under this agreement, Seritage contractually has the right to recapture all of the space occupied by the Sears store and the Sears Auto Center,” said Howard Riefs Director, Corporate Communications for Sears Holdings “Seritage informed us that they will be exercising that right and hence the store and Sears Auto Center will close in mid-April. Until then, they will remain open for customers. The store will begin its liquidation sale on January 27.”
The Sears property sits at a nexus of various development projects, goals and jurisdictions. The property is bordered by the freeway, 4th Street, Colorado Blvd. and Main Street. It is across the street from Santa Monica Place and the downtown Expo station is nearby. The Sears parking lot connects to the Expo station via a small tunnel underneath 4th St. but the connection has been fenced off for several years.
Any future development plans would have to adhere to several layers of regulation.
Several documents are in the works governing development on or near the site including the long gestating Downtown Community Plan, Local Coastal Plan and Civic Center Plan.
The building opened to the public in 1947 was declared a landmark on Dec. 13 of 2004. As a landmark, any work on the site would have to maintain the historic nature of the building. The building is also part of the Coastal Zone and the California Coastal Commission could also exercise authority of development at the site.
Seritage gave an informal presentation to the Landmarks Commission in 2016 covering broad possibilities for adaptive reuse at the site. Officials described a re-energized building with creative office and retail uses that would comply with all City and National guidelines regarding preservation of historic buildings.
Seritage issued a statement to the Daily Press regarding plans for the site.
“We look forward to advancing an adaptive reuse plan that creates a first-class, mixed-use commercial development that will add value to the local community while honoring the original building’s legacy by retaining its historic character,” it said. “In October, we presented the adaptive reuse plan to the City of Santa Monica’s Landmarks Commission as part of a process to protect and reposition the historic building. We are excited to work in partnership with the City, the Landmarks Commission and other governmental agencies to advance this proposal expeditiously in order to give new life to this important Santa Monica landmark, while at the same time respecting its rich cultural and architectural past.”