GRAND CROSSING — No one knows at this point what will happen to a two-story vacant building that was home to a Sears store for nearly 90 years before it closed in July.
Sears closed the store at 1334 E. 79th St. in part to cut costs.
"The store closure is part of a series of actions we’re taking to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base and accelerate the transformation of our business model," Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said. "We are currently considering our options for the building including the possibility of selling it."
Regardless what Sears ends up doing, Paul Smith, a Grand Crossing resident since 1953, said he doesn't want the shuttered retailer replaced with a business that keeps late hours.
"Businesses like liquor stores that stay open until midnight attract crime and we don't need anymore crime around here," added Smith, who lives across the street from the former Sears store in the 7800 block of South Kimbark Avenue. "I am an old man and there are a lot of older people that live in this area and safety is important to us."
Ideally, Smith said another retailer like a Target store would be perfect.
"I used to shop at Sears all the time. All I had to do was walk across the street when I needed something," Smith said. "But when Sears decided to close they took away that convenience from me."
And while Smith would welcome another retailer in the building, one local businessman is against it.
Chae Lee has operated Modern Beauty Supply, 1325 E. 79th St., for 34 years. He said he is glad that his biggest competition is gone.
"Business has increased for me since Sears closed. I would like to see things continue to improve for me," Lee said. "I don't want to see the building sit empty though, so if a company would move in and use it for office space, I'd like that."
Until a decision is made about the building's future, Riefs said, "we will provide an update as it warrants."
Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), whose ward includes the Sears building, was unavailable for comment.