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Long Island's last Sears closes in Massapequa

The last Sears department store on Long Island,

The last Sears department store on Long Island, at Sunrise Mall in Massapequa, closed Sunday. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Sixty-two years after Sears’ first "complete department store" opened on Long Island, the iconic retailer has packed it up for good in the area.

Sears’ last store on Long Island, at Sunrise Mall in Massapequa, closed its doors to the public Sunday, according to Urban Edge Properties, the Manhattan-based real estate investment trust that led a partnership that bought the mall in December.

"We look forward to working with our partners and community leaders to reposition the space and create new value at the property," Urban Edge said in a statement Wednesday.

The company intends to redevelop the mall, and the anchor space that Sears occupied is crucial to that plan, according to documents Urban Edge filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

On Sept. 29, Urban Edge reached an agreement with Sears’ and Kmart’s parent company, Transform Holdco LLC, to terminate its remaining leases at Sunrise Mall, Bruckner Commons in the Bronx and The Outlets of Montehiedra in Puerto Rico effective Oct. 15, according to Urban Edge’s SEC filing.

The deal called for Urban Edge to pay $20 million to recapture control of the spaces, according to the filing.

"Controlling these anchor spaces is a critical aspect of the value creation plans the company has underway to reposition these spaces with uses that appeal to the respective communities where the properties are located," Urban Edge wrote.

The company has declined to disclose its redevelopment plans for Sunrise Mall.

Transform, which does business as Transformco, did not respond to Newsday’s requests for comment, which included an inquiry about the number of people who were employed at the Sears in Massapequa.

Sears occupied 100,086 square feet on two floors in the mall.

The department store opened in October 1995, taking over a space that had been occupied by Stern’s.

Sears’ closing leaves three anchors — Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Dave & Buster’s — at Sunrise Mall, a 1.2 million-square-foot property on 77 acres along Sunrise Highway.

The mall has a high vacancy rate that continues to rise.

As of June 30, its vacancy rate was 34%, according to Urban Edge’s second-quarter earnings report. By comparison, the average mall vacancy rate on Long Island in the second quarter of this year was 5%, according to Costar Group Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based commercial real estate information provider.

While Sunrise Mall is accepting new tenants, "short-term leasing is the focus as we are evaluating long-term plans for the property," Urban Edge said Monday in response to Newsday’s inquiries about plans for the mall.

Urban Edge declined to say whether it was allowing current tenants to renew their leases or for how long.

Sears opened its first "complete department store" on Long Island, in Bay Shore, in October 1959, according to Newsday archives.

But Long Island has lost nearly a dozen Sears and Kmart stores over the past few years as the chains struggled nationwide.

In 2005, the chains’ then-parent company, Sears Holdings Corp., had about 3,500 stores nationwide.

But mired in debt and losing shoppers to discount retailers, the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company closed hundreds of stores for years before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2018.

Sears Holdings’ assets were purchased for $5.2 billion in 2019 by Transform, an affiliate of former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert’s ESL Investments Inc.

But Transform continued to close stores.

There are now 35 Sears and 17 Kmarts remaining in the nation, according to Great Neck-based retail consulting firm Creditntell/F&D Reports.

Under the ownership of Sears Holdings or Transform, 11 stores on Long Island have closed since April 2018: Sears stores in Hicksville, New Hyde Park, Garden City, Lake Grove, Valley Stream and Massapequa, and Kmarts in Farmingville, West Babylon, Riverhead, Huntington and Sayville.

There is one Kmart left on Long Island, in Bridgehampton.

  • Urban Edge Properties, new majority owner of Sunrise Mall, made a deal to terminate Sears' lease.
  • Urban Edge said it wants to reposition the anchor space with uses that appeal to the community.
  • The company has declined to disclose its redevelopment plans for the mall.

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