Sears is closing its store at 800 South and State Street in Salt Lake City — but the taco carts will stay

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Sears store at 800 S. and State Street in Salt Lake City, Friday November 3, 2017. The company will close the location in January 2018.

A Sears store that has been a presence for decades at 754 S. State St. in Salt Lake City will close in January.

Its Sears Auto Center is going by the wayside next month.

Their demise should not have any impact on the two taco carts that feed hundreds daily on the sidewalk next to the store’s big parking lot.

But it could have a beneficial long-term impact on that important stretch of Salt Lake City, said City Councilman Derek Kitchen, whose district includes the Sears property.

Noting that a master plan has been developed for the State Street corridor by the city and other governmental entities along the state highway, Kitchen said “this is a great opportunity to fulfill some of these plans. And it falls smack in the middle of a redevelopment project area.”

“I look forward to seeing how we can play an active role in seeing this parcel redeveloped in a way that adds to the fabric of our community,” he added. “As nice as it was in the 1970s, it doesn’t fit our development pattern or the style of the city — a big building in a sea of parking.”

Given the city’s dire need for more housing, Kitchen said he foresees a project that would involve considerable residential development above street-level commercial.

The Sears store had contracts with the two taco cart companies — Tacos Don Rafa and Tacos El Toro — to provide restrooms for their employees. But because both cart companies had reserved the right to use restrooms at other nearby businesses, a tattoo parlor for one and a convenience store for the other, the taco carts may continue operating as before.

“It’s too bad for Sears, but people were mostly concerned about the taco carts when they heard about this” store closure, observed Nicholas Rupp, a spokesman for the Salt Lake County Health Department, which licenses and monitors food carts.

Store employees were informed of the closure Thursday, when the department chain’s parent company, Sears Holdings, said it was closing 18 Sears and 45 Kmarts in late January.

“Sears Holdings continues its strategic assessment of the productivity of our Kmart and Sears store base and will continue to right-size our store footprint in number and size,” a company statement said. “We will continue to close some unprofitable stores.”

Noting that the closure timetable keeps the stores open through the holiday season, the Sears Holdings release said eligible employees will receive severance and the opportunity to apply for jobs at company stores that remain open.

Liquidation sales will begin Thursday at the closing stores, the statement added.