By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – Sears, the remaining store at the complex northwest of Southfield Road and Dix Highway, is one of 142 unprofitable stores closing while the company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Founded as a mail order firm in 1892, Sears, Roebuck and Co. grew during the 1920s to 1950s as it built department stores in urban areas. In the 1950s through the 1970s, Sears expanded into the suburbs with shopping malls. It was the largest domestic retailer until 1989, when Walmart surpassed it. In 2005, Sears was acquired by K-Mart.
Mayor Thomas Karnes said at the Oct. 15 City Council meeting that the city will not allow the site to “grow fallow under our feet.
“We say goodbye to a longtime partner. Sears has been very good for the city of Lincoln Park for many years. We were identified with that shopping center, but nothing lasts forever, so we will close that door and open up a new one.”
Councilman Chris Dardzinski said he had a lot of great childhood memories about Sears, and said Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Giles Tucker will meet with the property owner.
“Let’s hope we get a good turnover to that, to a proper developer, someone who is going to work with us and not against us,” Dardzinski said. “It is the only area in the city where we can build up. It does need to be rezoned, there are a lot of details, and it is a big, complex thing.
“It is the only place where we could build a $300 to $400 million development and then get $2 to $3 million to increase the tax base. People want more cops, they want the roads fixed. Those things cost money. It has to come from the general fund, which needs a tax base.”
State Rep. Cara Clemente (D-Lincoln Park) said she was sad about Sears closing because she has memories as a small child going to Sears, and said she still shops there with her family, and is disappointed that it is leaving.
“I see great potential, it’s just getting the right person, and hopefully we can get some great businesses or a big development,” Clemente said.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])