Southgate Mall confirmed Monday that Sears and its associated auto service will close in June, ending a run that spanned more than 75 years in Missoula.
The corporate office for Sears Holdings didn’t return calls for comment, but Southgate Mall manager Tim Winger confirmed the store is closing and the property will be repurposed.
“Southgate Mall appreciates Sears’ history, and contribution to the shopping center and Missoula,” Winger said. “Southgate has purchased Sears’ real estate and will incorporate the property into our broader development plan for the future.”
A corporate investment letter released in January noted that Sears Holdings closed 234 underperforming Kmart and Sears stores in 2014, though the majority of those were Kmart stores.
The Missoula Kmart closed in 2013, and with Monday’s news Sears will follow suit nearly two years later when it closes in June. The store employs roughly 60 people.
Winger said Southgate Mall now owns the 60,000-square-foot store and will incorporate the property into its future development plans.
“We would look at the piece of property along with the building and determine, based on who comes in, whether the building is of use or not,” Winger said. “Most developers look first at every opportunity to reuse the building, but depending on who comes in and the situation, it could go another way.”
Southgate Mall Associates purchased a large swath of land south of the mall last year, including the Paxson Plaza, Curley’s and the Val-U Inn. The hotel was razed in December, though mall owners have not detailed their plans for the property.
Peter Lambros, a representative of Southgate Mall Associates, said it was the ownership’s desire to control more land around the shopping center. Lambros only said that changes are coming and will take shape soon.
Winger declined to detail how the Sears property ties into the mall’s larger development plans.
“We have great ownership that’s forward thinking,” Winger said. “We’re optimistic we’ll be able to fill any vacancies we have. Whenever we have something vacant, it doesn’t take us very long to put something in there that's good for Missoula and western Montana.”