Tri-County Mall continues re-development efforts as another anchor retailer prepares to close

Sears will add its Tri-County Mall location to its growing list of retail mass casualties, even as the mall’s owner continues to re-develop the site.

The retail chain maintained a location for more than five decades at the Springdale mall, the region’s oldest enclosed shopping center, but a shifting economy and the changing face of retail saw numerous businesses depart the mall.

JCPenney closed there in 2005 and Dillard’s downsized to a clearance center in 2013, then closed that in 2015. Once Sears shuts it doors Aug. 5 following a massive liquidation of its merchandise, Macy’s will become the mall’s sole remaining anchor.

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Renee Bell, Tri-County Mall’s general manager, told this news outlet the mall has been working on a strategic redevelopment plan and has several prospects who match its goals for future growth interested in the space.

“We are looking forward to making a more definitive announcement about new tenants in the near future,” she said.

Since the purchase of the 1.3 million-square-foot mall in 2013, Singapore-based owner SingHaiyi Group has created two outparcels featuring tenants Starbucks, Men’s Warehouse, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Outback Steakhouse.

Along with those outparcels the mall also is adding new restaurant Dos Amigos, which is under construction and set to open in August.

Macy’s Backstage opened April 14 within the Macy’s store.

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Tri-County Mall previously floated a redevelopment plan that included the demolition of a vacant Dillard’s store to make way for an upscale dine-in theater, our news partner WCPO reported in 2017.

At a Springdale Planning Commission meeting in March 2017, the mall described a new leasing plan that involved the recruitment of “mini-majors,” or smaller retail anchors that would have storefronts facing west along Princeton Pike.

The latest store closure will leave Sears with three locations in the Cincinnati area, plus an appliance outlet.

Sears Holdings already closed more than 350 stores in 2017, including its Middletown location at Towne Mall Galleria. It closed a Sears Appliance and Hardware store in Fairfield in 2016. It also recently shut down a Sears Home Appliance Showroom at Voice of America Centre in West Chester Twp.

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The Tri-County Mall store’s closure was not included the last week of May on the list of 72 more Sears locations closing nationwide this year. The only Ohio locations included on that list were Lima and Strongville.

That news came one day after the Illinois-based company, which owns Sears and Kmart, announced a $424 million first-quarter loss.

Sears did not reply to requests for comment in regard to the closure of its Tri-County location.

The new round of closures doesn’t come as a surprise, as Sears reported yet another disappointing quarterly earnings. Eddie Lampert, CEO and chairman of Sears Holding Corp., told Vanity Fair earlier this year that the retailer was “fighting to survive.”

All items are on sale at Sears, which is just south of Butler County border in neighboring Hamilton County.

Laura Bence, of the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming, said she is not surprised the Tri-County Sears will close after reading numerous reports about the retail giant’s recent woes.

“It won’t change me from coming to the mall because I wasn’t a big Sears shopper to begin with,” she said. “I still will be coming to Tri-County because it’s convenient to my house.”

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Tara Ward, of South Lebanon, said she and her husband have been shopping at Tri-County Mall for decades but are resigned to the fact that Sears is closing.

“I think it’s sad because I like Tri-County (and) … everybody loves Sears,” she said, adding that she would continue to shop at the mall “because we have grandkids who are teenagers, so they make us come to the mall.”

Steve Ward said he remembers Sears opening in the mid 1960s when he was 10 years old, but is resigned to the fact that it is closing.

“There’s nothing we can do about it,” he said.

Sears Co. informed Tri-County Mall of its plans to start the process of liquidating the location in May, Bell said.

“Although the Sears Co. has been a staple of the mall for many years, this news was not totally unexpected as we have had concerns for a period of time that based upon their national performance the eventual closure was most likely imminent,” Bell said. “While we are disappointed to see the iconic brand close its doors, we are excited about the future possibilities this opens for us.”

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