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Sears announces closing of department store at Quaker Bridge Mall

The Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrence Township is losing one of its four anchor stores, following the announcement last week that Sears Holding Corp. is closing the Sears Roebuck and Co. department store at the regional mall as part of its business retrenchment.

The Sears store at the Quaker Bridge Mall is one of 48 Sears stores nationwide that will close in September, according to a Sears Holding Corp. spokesman. The store’s auto center will close in late July.

Liquidation sales will begin as early as June 14.

The number of sales associates impacted by the store closing at the Quaker Bridge Mall was not available, the spokesman said. Eligible associates will receive severance pay and an opportunity to apply for open positions at nearby Sears and Kmart stores.

Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski said township officials were not surprised by the store’s closing.

“As the municipal manager for the township, it is my desire to have businesses within our town succeed,” Nerwinski said. “It is certainly disappointing to have Sears close its doors in Lawrence, but certainly the challenges that the big traditional retailers are facing are well documented and this news does not come as a surprise, unfortunately.”

The decision to close the Quaker Bridge Mall store is part of an ongoing effort to streamline the company’s operations and focus on its best-performing stores, company officials said. The company will continue to evaluate its network of stores and make further adjustments as needed.

Sears Holdings Corp., which includes Sears and Kmart stores, reported general revenues of approximately $2.9 billion during the first quarter of 2018, compared with revenues of $4.2 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Store closures contributed to two-thirds of the loss in revenue.

The Sears store at the Quaker Bridge Mall, which has been identified by its parent company as one of many nonprofitable stores, is one of four anchor stores at the mall. The other anchor stores are Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Co., and Lord & Taylor.

The building that houses Sears is owned by the Trustees of SRC Facilities Statutory Trust 2003-A and not by the owners of the Quaker Bridge Mall. “SRC” is Sears Roebuck and Co.

Sears completed construction of the building and opened the store in March 1977 as part of the second phase of the overall Quaker Bridge Mall development. The building totals 200,900 square feet – 182,000 square feet of retail space and 18,900 square feet of auto and service space.

The property is assessed at $17.6 million. Property taxes totaled $491,905 for 2017-18, of which $93,015 was the municipal property tax portion of the tax bill. The rest was divided among the Lawrence Township School District and Mercer County.

Once the store closes, the company would have the option to rent out space in the building or sell it, Nerwinski said. The company has the right to challenge the assessment, but would have to overcome the burden of proof with respect to the value to be successful in an appeal, he said.

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