Little known about how mall owner will fill Sears space
CHAMPAIGN — The company that owns Market Place Shopping Center has given few clues about how it plans to fill the space being vacated by Sears.
General Growth Properties has known for at least 20 months that Sears would be vacating its 150,000-square-foot anchor store at the east end of Market Place Mall.
But as of Friday, all the mall's general manager, Dennis Robertson, would say is that plans for the space are still being negotiated.
"Right now, we continue reviewing all opportunities available," said General Growth Properties Vice President David Keating in an e-mail.
General Growth Properties owns and operates dozens of malls throughout the Midwest. Conceivably, some anchor stores at those malls could be candidates to fill the Market Place vacancy.
But General Growth could also decide to redevelop the Sears space for smaller stores — or for a use other than retail.
Anchor stores at General Growth's Midwestern malls that aren't present in Market Place include:
— Scheels All Sports, the Fargo, N.D.-based outdoor and sporting goods chain that populates the Upper Midwest and has recently expanded into Illinois. Scheels already has a store in Springfield, so a store in Champaign might make sense, given that the same cities are in the same media market.
Scheels has 24 stores in 10 states.
— Dillard's, the Little Rock, Ark.-based department store chain. Dillard's is well-represented at General Growth malls in Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Kentucky — but has little presence in central Illinois. Here it would compete with current Market Place anchors Macy's, Bergner's and JCPenney.
Dillard's has 300 stores in 29 states, including Moline, Fairview Heights and Marion in Illinois.
— Von Maur, the Davenport, Iowa-based department store chain, would be a logical fit, given that it already has stores in Normal and Forsyth, as well as Moline and Indianapolis. Altogether, the chain has 27 stores in 11 states, including one at General Growth's Oxmoor Center in Louisville, Ky.
— Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue are anchor tenants at several General Growth malls in metropolitan areas. Market Place has a good track record of attracting hot stores before other central Illinois malls do — but is Champaign-Urbana populous or wealthy enough to appeal to any of those three?
Seattle-based Nordstrom has 117 full-line stores, including some in the Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis metro areas. New York-based Lord & Taylor has 50 stores, primarily in the Northeast, while Saks has 41 stores in 22 states.
— Several General Growth malls are home to theater complexes, and it's conceivable AMC Theatres could be interested in the Champaign-Urbana market since it has complexes in Danville, Mattoon, Bloomington and Terre Haute, Ind.
Other candidates seem less likely. Younkers department store occupies prominent spots in several General Growth malls in Iowa and Wisconsin. But that's a brand of Bon-Ton Stores, which already has Bergner's at Market Place.
Other anchor tenants of General Growth malls in the Midwest include:
— Target and Dick's Sporting Goods, both of which already have stores on North Prospect Avenue in Champaign.
— Kohls, which has a freestanding store at Champaign's Market Place Plaza.
— Barnes & Noble, which has a freestanding store on Marketview Drive in Champaign.
— Burlington Coat Factory, which has area stores in Danville, Springfield and Peoria.