It came as a bit of a surprise when Sears announced the closing of its Prices Corner store, effective in April. The prevailing wisdom was that the Concord Mall store would be the first two go.
There was also the belief that locally owned Concord was well positioned to find replacements for the space.
Mall owners elsewhere have been able to find creative ways to fill vacant store space with everything from fitness centers to medical facilities, and even Dave and Buster’s entertainment centers.
Next month, smaller Dave and Buster’s Dallas rival Main Event will open a free-standing location at The Christiana Fashion Center. (See story elsewhere in this newsletter). Unlike big-box retailers, entertainment centers seem to be thriving.
Finding an occupant for the Sears site won’t be easy.
The center still has a JC Penney store, but will the center, minus Sears, have the critical mass needed to attract or retain anchors?
Up until now, the high traffic area along Kirkwood Highway brought growing retailer Gabe’s and others to the center to fill past departures.
The threat of a shopping complex at the former Barley Mill site up Route 141 has receded, thanks to retail downsizing and neighborhood opposition to the former DuPont office site.
Will it be better to knock down the Sears site and add some pads for other retailers or will medical sites, fitness centers or service businesses fill the gap somehow?
Kirkwood Highway, once a retail hub of New Castle County, has more than a few vacancies and a lot of obsolete retail space in this age of Amazon. A vacant Sears store will add to the negative perception of the area.
The good news is that no one is talking about the former GM plant becoming a shopping center. Harvey, Hanna now owns the property and clean-up work continues on the site, with the goal of preserving at least part of the complex.
Meanwhile, it seems highly likely that the Christiana Fashion Center will be the last big retail center north of the canal.
Enjoy this brief taste of spring training weather. The newsletter returns tomorrow. – Doug Rainey, publisher.