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Sears likely headed out of Coral Ridge Mall after selling real estate

Dave DeWitte, CR Gazette –

Sears appears to be on its way out at Coral Ridge Mall after the retailer sold its Coral Ridge store – and 10 other Sears spaces at other malls – to Coral Ridge Mall’s owner.

Chicago-based General Growth announced on Thursday that it has reached an agreement with Sears Holdings to acquire 11 Sears “anchor pads” in its retail centers for $270 million.

Sears offered no indication that it plans to continue operating any of the stores.

“The stores will continue to operate as Sears locations into 2013 with final closing dates to be determined and announced later this year,” the company said in a statement.

General Growth indicated its looking to find tenants for the Sears spaces.

“I can tell you that we are in talks with a number of retailers that have expressed interest as replacement tenants for these locations, including Coral Ridge; but we’re not in the position at this time to share with you these names,” wrote David Keating, vice president of communications for General Growth, in an e-mail.

The announcement came as Sears was announcing a big loss for 2011.

Sears Holdings’ ajusted loss per diluted share from continuing operations expanded from $1.97 in 2010 to $4.52 in 2011.

Sales declined 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter and 3 percent for the full years at Sears stores in the United States. Sales at the company’s Kmart stores fell 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter and 1.4 percent for the year.

Sears Holdings’ stock traded sharply higher after the announcement, however as investors were encouraged by two newly announced moves to raise cash . One was the sale of stores to General Growth and the other was a plan to sell the company’s Hometown and Outlet stores.

General Growth said the Sears store acquisition is expected to be complete in the quarter ending June 30, 2012.

The Sears store at Coral Ridge dates back to the opening of the 1.2 million square foot regional mall in 1998. The 98,596-square-foot store has a net assessed value of $5.7 million, according to the Johnson County Assessor’s office web site, and had a 2011 tax bill of about $213,890.

The 11 Sears anchor pads acquired by General Growth also included one other Iowa location, at Mall of the Bluffs in Council Bluffs.

Sears Holdings added 15 store closings to its previously announced list of Kmart, Sears and Grand/Essentials store closings on its web site Thursday.

The list indicated the stores slated for sale to General Growth, but did not indicate closing dates.

Sears operated a store at Sycamore Mall in Iowa City before it moved to Coral Ridge Mall in 1998. A Sears Hometown store, which offers most of Sears’ merchandise other than apparel lines, has since opened at Sycamore.

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