SEARS PLANS A RETURN TO STATE ST.

Byline: Sharon Edelson

NEW YORK — Sears, Roebuck & Co. said Monday it will open a 237,000-square-foot store on State Street in downtown Chicago, marking a return to the street after a 15-year absence.
The store, on the northwest corner of State and Madison Streets, will occupy the lower level, ground floor and three additional levels of an existing 17-story building. It is expected to open in fall 1999.
State Street is part of the Loop, Chicago’s central business district.
The new full-line store will emphasize the “softer side” of Sears, with private labels such as Canyon River Blues and Crossroads, Circle of Beauty, the chain’s proprietary cosmetics collection, and brands such as First Issue by Liz Claiborne.
The State Street property is owned by Investment Properties Associates, a limited partnership for Helmsley-Spear. Sears said it has signed a letter of intent to lease the space, but has not signed a lease.
The Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based retailer has applied to the City of Chicago Planning Department for tax breaks called tax-increment financing.
For more than 51 years, until 1983, Sears operated an eight-level, 512,000-square-foot store on State and Congress Streets.
A Sears spokeswoman said, “It was not profitable.”
A spokeswoman said the retailer closed in 1983 after Wieboldt’s department store, just north of Sears on State Street, closed.
“That vacant area cut us off from the rest of State Street’s retail hub,” she said.
The area has once again become desirable to retailers. Many buildings have been rehabilitated and converted to condominiums. Over 800,000 residents live within the State Street trade area. In addition, there are 450,000 private sector office workers, the Sears spokeswoman said.
“State Street is back,” she added. “I think every retailer in America is looking at State Street. There has been a tremendous growth in the number of people who live in the downtown Loop area.”
State Street also boasts an enormous Marshall Field’s and a Carson Pirie Scott flagship.
“The development of State Street is something we want to be a part of,” the Sears spokeswoman said. “We have been looking to return to State Street for some time, but couldn’t make the numbers work.”
In other Sears news, Michael D. Levin, senior vice president and general counsel, has resigned. A spokeswoman said Levin planned to return to private practice. Levin joined the firm in January 1996.

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