Sears has faced an uphill battle since recently announcing a wave store closures across the United States.
There may be some good news locally as the store at Belden Village Mall is undergoing a renovation. The Belden Village Sears is the only one remaining in the Akron-Canton area following the closure of the Chapel Hill store in 2017. There are only seven Sears stores remaining in Ohio.
Renovations call for the two-story store to be reduced to the northern portion of the first floor. Sears’ footprint in the existing footprint will go from 194,000 square feet to 74,000 square feet.
A new entrance is expected to be created on the Belden Village Street side. Plans filed with the Stark County Building Department show the second floor will become Dave & Busters and there will be the potential for three other tenants on the main level due to Sears only occupying a portion of the first floor. In all, the Dave & Busters and additional tenants will total about 123,000 square-feet, with about 74,000 of that space being the Dave & Busters.
“This area will be provided exits that will allow these tenants to remain open at differing hours than the mall,” said Stark County Building Department Chief Building Official Angela Cavanaugh.
The Sears building is owned independent from Belden Village Mall by Seritage Growth Properties.
Belden Village Mall Marketing Director Jen Grisez said her and General Manager Mike Walsh are thrilled about the project.
“Since the property is not mall owned it is not our news to report, but we are just as excited as everyone else,” Grisez said.
Sears Holding Director of Corporate Communications Howard Riefs said the smaller Sears store will undergo a complete renovation.
“The updated store will offer all categories previously offered in the two-level store in a reduced footprint,” Riefs said.
He said the layout will be more efficient for customers and they will notice new flooring, lighting, restrooms, a new mall entrance and new interior and exterior signage.
Riefs said the store will remain open during construction and the interior construction will be completed in early 2019.
Jackson Township Fiscal Officer/Economic Development Director Randy Gonzalez said the township met with Sears officials when the project first came to light. Gonzalez said following that meeting, he felt good that despite Sears’ recent financial struggles, the company would maintain a presence at Belden Village Mall.
“The fact Sears felt strong enough to keep a presence in the mall is great,” Gonzalez said.
With only five locations in Ohio, Gonzalez added that Dave & Busters makes sure there is a proper market before building a new location and says the company will generate a lot of business.
Gonzalez also said it is great that Belden Village Mall has made the proper investments, including boosting its curbside appeal, to keep it competitive in an age were many malls across the country are struggling.
“They have done a fantastic job,” Gonzalez said.
As part of the project,the front of the Sears store facing Everhard Road will receive a facelift.
“From a township’s perspective, we are happy to see this happen,” Gonzalez said.
Requests seeking comment from Seritage Growth Properties and Dave & Busters were not returned.
This story was also published in The Suburbanite. www.thesuburbanite.com