One department store is growing its reach in Springfield, while another is closing its doors this year.
Burlington officials plan to open a second local storefront at the former JCPenney Home Store this fall at Primrose Marketplace, said Brendon Ruth, vice president of leasing for the Ohio-based shopping center owner, Chase Properties.
This comes on the heels of the February announcement that Sears – a Battlefield Mall tenant of nearly 40 years – will close its doors in mid-April. The local move follows a decade of closures nationwide. Sears owner Transform Holdco LLC, aka Transformco, had announced it would be closing 96 Sears and Kmart stores by February this year, which left the company with 182 stores operating nationwide, according to a news release. A liquidation sale began at the Battlefield Mall department store last month. Mall officials deferred questions on the closure to Transformco officials, who declined to comment.
Despite the exit of a longtime retailer, Ruth said Springfield’s retail industry appears to be healthy. Additionally, several tenants have signed on to the Battlefield Mall since the start of the year.
“It’s a positive sign for the community and the center that we were able to attract them as a new tenant at Primrose,” Ruth said of Burlington.
Formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory, Burlington entered the Springfield market in 2017 at Springfield Plaza on West Sunshine Street. The store sells clothing, coats and footwear, as well as baby accessories, furniture, home decor and gifts at more than 720 stores nationwide, according to its website.
In 2019, Burlington was included in the National Retail Federation’s list of the Top 100 retailers, with 664 stores and nearly $6.6 billion in sales the year prior.
“It’s an outstanding add. There’s no doubt about it,” Ruth said. “It’s one of the strongest tenants in the retail community right now.”
Burlington will occupy nearly 46,000 square feet at the former JCPenney Home Store this fall, Ruth said.
City building permits point to an infill cost of nearly $2.1 million, with Illinois-based Hanna Design Group LLC hired on to the project. The company, which works in architecture, construction and engineering, did not return requests for comment. Burlington corporate officials could not be reached for comment on the Springfield store, but a third-party spokesperson confirmed the store plans.
JCPenney vacated the South Glenstone Avenue shopping center last year as part of a move to close 27 stores nationwide, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
Ruth said Chase Properties has a longstanding relationship with Burlington, and he proposed the Springfield space last fall.
“It appeared to be a logical fit for them based on the size of the space,” Ruth said, adding the company signed in December 2019.
Ruth declined to disclose lease terms but said it was a “long-term commitment.”
The shopping center, which Ruth said has an occupancy rate of 93%, has a few vacancies, including the roughly 20,000-square-foot storefront previously Johnny Mac’s Sporting Goods, according to SBJ archives. Before that, it housed an OfficeMax store.
Also at Primrose Marketplace, franchisees of Irvine, California-based Xponential Fitness LLC’s CycleBar brand have told SBJ they were seeking a lease for 2,200 square feet at the previous Dressbarn space. Ruth said a lease agreement had not been finalized by press time. Franchisees Jeromy and Megan Rolloos previously said they hope to open their cycling franchise this summer.
At Battlefield Mall, it’s unknown whether a tenant is in the lineup for the former Sears space.
General Manager Michael Martin previously told SBJ that when a retailer exits, the Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG) shopping mall usually has a list of interested retailers.
According to Greene County records, the Sears store spans 177,549 square feet at the mall. Until the 1980s, Sears had operated in downtown Springfield, first at the site of the Regal College Station movie theater and then at property where Springfield Exposition Center now exists, according to past SBJ reporting.
Though the mall is losing an anchor tenant, three new tenants have signed on since the beginning of the year. Chain clothing retailers H&M, Dry Goods and Aerie all plan to open in 2020, occupying roughly 28,000 total square feet. Versona, a women’s boutique, also opened last month in the former space of women’s store Charming Charlie, which closed nationally last year.
The Battlefield Mall has recently maintained an occupancy rate just above the national average of 91%, according to data by the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Springfield’s second Burlington store is just one of many store openings planned for 2020.
The company is expecting to open 37 stores nationwide this spring, according to its website. Last year, Burlington opened 50 stores with a total investment of $310 million, according to a company news release.
“Burlington, nationally speaking, is perceived as a very strong tenant and brand,” Ruth said. “They’re one of the larger, national brands that’s doing new deals.”
In a news release following a March 5 earnings conference call, Burlington officials said they’re opening 54 net new stores in 2020 and investing roughly $400 million in capital expenditures. The company announced fiscal 2019 sales increased 9.3% to $7.3 billion.
Web Editor Geoff Pickle contributed.
Austin, Texas-based Kendra Scott LLC made its Springfield debut; Lost Boys Barber Co. LLC relocated; and Wilson Logistics Inc. opened its corporate headquarters in Strafford.