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Lawrence Avenue Sears To Close In August; Pawar Prepares For Redevelopment

By Patty Wetli | May 5, 2016 1:12pm | Updated on May 5, 2016 2:31pm
 The Sears store on Lawrence Avenue in Chicago is closing, company officials say.
The Sears store on Lawrence Avenue in Chicago is closing, company officials say.
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LINCOLN SQUARE — Sears' Lawrence Avenue store, the oldest left standing in the retail chain, will close in August, the company said Thursday.

A liquidation sale will begin May 19, Howard Riefs, spokesman for Sears Holdings, told DNAinfo.

"The nearby Sears Auto Center will remain open. No other local Sears or Kmart stores are impacted," Riefs added.

A fixture in Lincoln Square since the 1920s, the Lawrence Avenue store survived numerous rounds of previous closing announcements, but the corporate ax finally fell as Sears Holdings continues to rapidly divest itself of properties in order to bolster the company's bottom line.

If Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) has his way, the building itself, at 1900 W. Lawrence Ave., will at least manage to escape demolition.

Patty Wetli on the loss of Sears in Lincoln Square.

With closing rumors swirling around the store for years, the alderman has been preparing for the property's eventual sale.

"I've been looking at landmarking," Pawar said. "This is, in my mind, an architecturally significant building. It's a beautiful building."

RELATED: Memories Live on at Six Corners Sears in Portage Park

Though Pawar said he aims to block any proposals that call for the building to be torn down, he's bullish on having the site redeveloped as quickly as possible by either another large retailer or as mixed-use residential/retail.

"We can't have that hulking building sitting empty. We can't have another Ravenswood Hospital," the alderman said.

Lawrence Avenue, particularly between Ravenswood and Western avenues, has seen significant revitalization with the opening of a Mariano's grocery store, a streetscape project, investment in the campus at McPherson Elementary and new businesses, including Band of Bohemia, Roots Pizza and The Sixth cocktail bar.

The redevelopment of Sears presents "an opportunity to realize what the streetscape was intended to do," Pawar said.

The alderman said that any proposal for the site is likely to meet with opposition, but he wouldn't let a "small minority of vocal voices" hijack the conversation.

"What I will say 'no' to is a decadelong drawn-out argument over what's best for the site," Pawar said. "I think it's important for Lawrence that Sears going empty is not what stops development."

Rumors of a closing reached fever pitch in recent days as Sears stores across the country — none of them included in a late April closing announcement — met the ax.

Reaction from neighbors was mixed, with many stating that the store was a great option for staples — Levi's, socks, hardware — while others called the store a "shambles."

The Sears website lists two remaining full-service stores in the city where Sears Roebuck and Co. was founded in 1893: at 1601 N. Harlem Ave. in the Galewood neighborhood and 4730 W. Irving Park Road in the Portage Park neighborhood. 

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