Sears Holdings enters commercial real estate arena

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One of the nation’s largest retailers now wants more than America’s lawnmower, apparel and appliance business.

In a first, Sears Holdings Corp. has inaugurated an in-house operation designed to lease or sell many of its Sears and Kmart vacant properties.

Retail industry website www.plainvanillashell.com published a Chicago Tribune story that highlighted steps the company’s ownership is taking to fill its many vacant buildings throughout the country.

Doing business as SHC Realty, the retailer is looking for ways to make its real estate more productive.

Initially the website http://www.shcrealty.com/ listed 67 former Sears or Kmart store locations. Another 3,779 stores offer “operating opportunities” such as renting space for in-store shops, leasing land adjacent to an existing store or leasing land on the outskirts of a store’s parking lot.

Those interested can register and provide contact information or they may simply scroll through the list of for sale or for lease properties.  The website invites retailers, brokers and investors to participate.

The company will officially present its new program at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ real estate convention in Las Vegas in May – the industry’s biggest annual gathering.

Sears also is interested in licensed businesses and “strategic partnerships to creatively reuse nontraditional space for specialty marketing opportunities,” according to the Web site.

The stores available include a variety of Sears formats – auto centers, hardware stores, outlets, Sears Essentials and Great Indoors, to name a few. The database is searchable by state, region, market and store.

Colorado is not yet one of the company’s primary targets.

So far Colorado Springs’ three Sears and three Kmart stores are open for business. Only an abandoned Sears and a Kmart in Greeley are listed