WILMINGTON — The Sears store Independence Mall will be demolished as part of a planned overhaul that will rebrand the site as The Collection at Independence.
The overhaul and rebranding are being undertaken by Rouse Properties, which purchased the mall last year. According to a release from Matthew Chudoba, spokesman for The Collection at Independence, the “Sears box” will be demolished to create an indoor-outdoor area, featuring several restaurants.
According to the release, “The Collection at Independence is committed to working together with all parties – its tenants, partners, members of the community and municipal officials – throughout the duration of the project.”
However, the release no longer lists Sears as part of its retail line-up.
“The Collection at Independence is an over 1 million square foot shopping center centrally located on Oleander Drive in Wilmington’s mid-town district and only three miles from the 230-plus block historic downtown district. The property boasts a retail lineup consisting of over 150 retailers including Belk, Dillard’s, JC Penney, Victoria’s Secret, Hibbett Sports, American Eagle, Foot Locker, Bath & Body Works, Forever 21 and Chick-fil-a,” according to the release.
The obvious implication is that the troubled Sears company will not be retaining a presence at the mall. The Sears Holding company – which owns both Sears and KMart – closed the Wilmington KMart location last year. Later, the company announced over 100 new closings at the beginning of 2018, although the Independence Mall Sears was not on that list.
Chudoba declined to answer questions about the fate of Sears.
“We understand after reading (this release) that you might have further questions. However, at this point, we are unable to comment in further,” Chudoba wrote.
The release did include artists rendering of the new design. Besides indicating plans for a hotel and medical center, near the current JC Penny location, no specifics about possible retail or restaurant tenants were included.
According to the release, demolition and new construction are both planned to begin later this year.