WICKER PARK — Wicker Park's Kmart is closing and will soon be replaced by a Lowe's Home Improvement store.
Kmart, an anchor tenant in Wicker Commons, is the latest to close in the changing mall. Ulta is moving into a portion of a shuttered Staples in the Commons as well.
The struggling discount department store faces profit losses and has closed many other stores throughout the country, Crain's first reported Wednesday.
Chicago-based Centrum Partners owns the mall and leased the 87,000-square-foot store to Lowe's.
Larry Powers, vice president of acquisitions and development for Centrum Partners, said that if all goes as scheduled, construction will begin in the spring, and both Lowe's and Ulta — moving into a portion of an empty storefront that was formerly a Staples — could be open before the end of the year.
"The process is dependent on getting permits," Powers added.
The Kmart at 1360 N. Ashland Ave. opened in 1991 after taking over a lease for Zayre's, Powers said.
A liquidation sale will begin on Saturday, and the Kmart is scheduled to close in mid-April.
With the recent closing of an Ace Hardware at 1013 N. Ashland Ave., a Home Depot in Lincoln Park on North Avenue has been the nearest spot for home construction supplies.
"For residents in Wicker Park, Bucktown and Ukrainian Village, Lowe's will offer a much more convenient shopping experience than crossing the Kennedy and the [Chicago] river to get to alternate stores. Getting from Wicker Park to Lincoln Park on a Saturday is not fun," Powers said.
A Kmart employee since 1998 (who asked not to be named) said Wednesday that the closure is not a surprise for her or about 100 other Kmart workers.
"This is nothing new to me. I'm not sad and have been through it twice; things like this happen. Life goes on. You have to move on," she said.
She said the Wicker Park Kmart employees are "a tight-knit group."
Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), whose ward includes Wicker Park Commons, told Crain's he plans to co-host a job fair with Lowe's in order to “provide local residents, and current Kmart employees, the opportunity to apply for these new jobs in our community.”
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: