Sears to close Landover store in March


The Sears in Landover, seen in 2003. The banner will not apply much longer, as the store will close in March after a liquidation sale. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

The rest of Landover Mall closed more than a decade ago and now Sears is finally departing along with it.

Sears will hold a liquidation sale at its store on Brightseat Road in Landover beginning Friday Jan. 10 and close the store for good in mid-March, a company spokesman said.

The store operated for more than a decade in a sea of empty parking lots after Landover Mall closed in 2002 and was demolished a few years later.

At the time of the mall’s closure, Sears officials said they would stick it out in Landover, even with nothing surrounding it on 88 acres. But the company said Wednesday that its lease had not been renewed and its store would close this spring as the retailer tries to find its footing.

“Store closures are part of a series of actions we’re taking to reduce on-going expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” said Sears spokesman Howard Riefs, in a statement. “These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members through integrated retail – at the store, online and in the home.”


Keith Liah, who was the Sears store manager in 2003, in a photo from that year. (Kevin Clark/TWP)

The closure could cause more than 100 people to lose their jobs. Currently 82 people work at the store and another 33 work at the Sears Auto Center nearby, most of whom are part-time hourly employees, according to Sears.

Riefs said that “associates that are eligible will receive severance and have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Sears or Kmart stores.” Sears, for instance, still has locations in Bowie and White Oak, among others in the greater Washington area.

Sears has been struggling for years, battered by both discount retailers like Wal-Mart and online sellers like Amazon. Dozens of other low-cost retailers opened recently at the Tanger Outlets near National Harbor.

Sears had owned the Landover store until recently, when it sold the property to Lerner Enterprises, which owns the rest of the mall site. Lerner tried to persuade state and county officials to build a $645 million regional hospital there, going so far as to hire former Montgomery County executive Douglas M. Duncan to lobby for the project and offering the county 16 acres of land. County officials ultimately favored a site at the Boulevard at the Capital Centre.

Lerner Enterprises, the development firm of Washington Nationals owner Theodore N. Lerner, proposed building a town center project on the former mall site, which would have included 4.5 million square feet of office space, 2,758 residential units, 680,000 square feet of retail space and a 400-room hotel in front of a central plaza.

A Lerner executive was not immediately available to comment on the company’s current plans. David S. Iannucci, a top economic development aide to Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), said the county was committed to doing what it takes to redevelop the location, which is just off the Capital Beltway.

“The administration has previously and on multiple times communicated our deep interest in seeing the site redeveloped to its full potential,” Iannucci said in an e-mail.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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