Rezoning for former Sears site delayed after deal to secure anchor tenant falls through

Roxie Hammill - July 9, 2019 8:00 am
An earlier rendering of plans for the former Sears site on Metcalf Ave. Developers say the backing out of an anchor tenant led them to request delaying a rezoning petition before the Overland Park Planning Commission.

Plans to redevelop the vacant Sears at 97th Street and Metcalf Avenue have run into trouble because a deal for an anchor store fell through, but developer Seritage Growth Properties is confident the plan can move forward by next month, a spokesperson said.

Jon Gripka of BRR Architecture Inc., speaking on behalf of Seritage, told the Overland Park Planning Commission Monday that the latest in a string of delays on the property’s rezoning was due to the loss of an anchor tenant, but said later he was not at liberty to say who that tenant would have been. The anchor would have been in the 80,000-square-foot Sears building, according to a plan on file with the city.

The company is still committed to a high quality mixed-use development on the site, he said. The plans have called for retail, a fitness center and a multi-family apartment building.

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Seritage is a real estate investment trust that was spun off from Sears by hedge fund manager Edward S. Lampert. Sears sold some 235 stores across the country to Lampert, who is redeveloping them. Meantime, Sears paid rent and some property tax to Seritage, according to a New York Times story.

The rapid closure of Sears stores across the country left Seritage with large amounts of empty space, prompting concerns about its earnings. But in recent months, progress has been made on some of the higher profile properties in Florida and Dallas,

Progress on the Overland Park project, though, has been at a virtual standstill since the company announced it in November. It has been continued each time it was scheduled for discussion at monthly planning commission meetings.

The first delay came after city staff expressed concern about the height of the multi-family units that were near single-family homes at the eastern edge of the property. The company postponed discussion to work on that issue.

Seritage originally proposed razing the Sears building and replacing it with a movie theater and fitness center. A revised plan was later filed that would instead repurpose the Sears building for an unnamed anchor tenant. Gripka was not able to say what will happen now that the anchor deal has fallen through.

The Post reached out to Seritage but has not received a response. The next planning commission meeting will be August. 12.

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