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Jason Ryals speaks on Sears' decision to close Avenues location

“It creates opportunity,” said Jason Ryals, executive director of Colliers International Northeast Florida.

Ryals said mall ownership, which includes national retail investor Simon Property Group, can sign a tenant “to bring some new life to that part of the project.”

He mentioned fitness and furniture tenants. “They won’t have a problem finding new tenants for that space,” Ryals said.

Sears, which has undergone bankruptcy reorganization, “doesn’t bring much to the trade area or the mall,” he said.

“Store closures aren’t always a negative,” he said.

During its heyday, Sears operated department stores in Regency Square Mall, The Avenues mall and Orange Park Mall in Northeast Florida.

The Regency store closed in July 2016 and is for sale at the mostly vacant mall. The Orange Park store remains in operation.

Sears leases The Avenues space.

sears closing

Sears Holdings Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Oct. 15. Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert won a bid to buy the Sears Holdings Corp. assets, including the Regency and Orange Park properties it owned in Northeast Florida. Lampert controls Transform Holdco.

Retail broker Geneva Henderson, executive vice president of Lat Purser & Associates, said Sears has lost so many shoppers over the years that The Avenues closing “will not really affect the mall.”

“They will find, if they haven’t already, a replacement tenant,” Henderson said. 

“They might de-mall that end of the mall and put junior anchors in place,” she said, referring to the practice by some shopping center landlords of demolishing or redesigning large structures and rebuilding with smaller stores.

Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group owned or held an interest in 206 properties in the U.S. as of year-end, including 107 malls, in 37 states and Puerto Rico.

Henderson called Simon “a beast of a landlord” that “has many different avenues to find better, more active tenants to backfill the space.”

A Simon spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

In an August statement announcing 26 closures, Transform Holdco said “our goal remains to return the company to profitability and preserve as many jobs as possible in the communities we serve.”

Transform Holdco said it would focus on expanding its smaller store formats, which would include opening more Home & Life Stores and adding “several hundred” Sears Hometown stores.

Read more about the Sears closure here.

Source | Jax Daily Record | Karen Brune Mathis

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Jason Ryals

Executive Director


Jason has over 16 years of experience in commercial real estate in Northeast Florida. He has completed over $400,000,000 in transactions in his career. His brokerage activities are focused on Tenant representation and expansion for National and Regional restaurant and retail chains, outparcel marketing and asset disposition.

Jason has extensive knowledge of the North Florida market, along with strong relationships with the dominant landlords and development companies in the region

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