Reaction to Cornwall Sears impending closure

In this Friday, May 26, 2017, file photo, Cornwall Square as seen from Water Street. The mall's anchor store, Sears, announced yesterday it would be closing as part of a bankruptcy restructuring. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The owner of Cornwall Square says closing of the Sears Outlet store “may impact the value of that mall.”

Sears Canada announced Thursday it would be closing 59 stores across Canada, including the locations in Cornwall and Brockville, as part of a bankruptcy restructuring.

Partners Real Estate Investment Trust said in a statement, it will be monitoring the situation and will be “reviewing its alternatives” with the building at 1 Water Street East.

Denis Carr, city councillor and former Heart of the City coordinator, believes it leaves a lot of questions and a lot of doubt.

“It’s not just a case of, that’s a big hole in the mall. What is the future of the whole mall now?” he said in an interview with Cornwall Newswatch.

Cornwall Square received $94,488 last year through the city’s vacancy tax rebate program – a program the city is working to phase out.

“I don’t hear any new developments for that mall and I don’t know when we’re going to get more information from Sears. We can’t afford to have a building that size empty in the downtown core,” Carr said.

Partners suggesting the closure could affect the value of the mall, could be cause for the company to appeal its assessment.

Carr said there are “so many people” appealing assessments, they will have to “fight that battle” and not “sit back and take it” – especially when it affects the city’s finances.

While shopping malls are transforming, Carr believes they can still be successful. Case in point is the Eastcourt Mall. “That’s pretty vibrant…a lot of new stuff happening. I think the Walmart mall, apart from the Walmart store. Maybe that’s the way they’re going now,” he said.

Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy said Sears has been a long-standing retailer in the city.

“Now it will be up to the owner of the property to try and fill that space with other retailers. How they do it is up to them but certainly they’ll be looking for an anchor tenant or possibly two stores – one up and one down,” the mayor said.

“It’s something that happens. It happens all the time. Stores come and go in the mall…in other locations in the city,” he said.

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