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Sears at Provo Towne Centre will be sticking around

Published October 23, 2012 8:30 pm

Retail • Customers push to keep open store threatened with closure.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Sears store at the Provo Towne Centre has gotten a new lease on life.

It was threatened with closure earlier this year when Sears Holdings Corp. sold 11 of its stores, including the Provo and Fashion Place mall outlets, to General Growth Properties for $270 million. At that time, General Growth said it anticipated Sears would continue to occupy the stores into 2013, with final closing dates to be announced later this year.

Since then, though, the outlook has changed considerably for the Sears store in Provo.

"We now have a new lease with General Growth, which means that we will not be closing," said Julie Santa Cruz, general manager of the Provo Sears store.

She said when the Provo store's future was in doubt, the surrounding community responded with overwhelming support ,expressing a desire for Sears to stay. "And now we are delighted that we can tell them that we are still going to be around."

That also means the store's approximately 100 employees will not have to look for jobs.

Santa Cruz said that the sale to General Growth was not because the store was unprofitable. "It was and continues to be a profitable location."

Rather, the sale of the Provo store and the 10 other locations — all of which were tenants in General Growth-owned properties — was strictly a real estate transaction that helped Sears Holdings added liquidity to its balance sheet.

Scott Hansen, general manager of the Provo Towne Centre, described the new short-term lease with Sears as a "welcome development" that still gives General Growth the option of pursuing an alternative tenant for the shopping complex if an opportunity presents itself.

"But I don't see that happening in the near future," he said. "The community loves Sears, and we still love Sears. And I don't see that changing anytime soon."

The future of the Fashion Place Sears location is less clear.

"We are still looking at all of our options for that property," said Celese Dorris, Fashion Place general manager.

steve@sltrib.com

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