BY MICHELLE OWNBEY
Less than a year since the Kmart on West Wabash closed, the former big box store is nearly unrecognizable. The property owner, Seritage Growth Properties, is a publicly traded REIT and has a large portfolio of properties nationwide, specializing in redeveloping former Kmart and Sears locations into multi-tenant shopping centers. Based out of New York, New York, with real estate holdings in 49 states, Seritage also owns and manages multiple shopping centers in Illinois, primarily in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs, but also Moline and Springfield.
Locally, Seritage is making a nearly $20 million investment in redeveloping the entire Sherwood Plaza shopping center and the first phase is well underway. In July, the Springfield City Council approved zoning changes to the former Staples location, closed since February of this year, to allow package liquor store Binny’s Beverage Depot to take over the space. Binny’s is in the final stages of their tenant build out and hopes to open in early November.
Another new business, Orangetheory Fitness, is anchoring the other end of the east building and opened in mid-October. Two existing tenants, Mosser Shoes and Red Wing Shoes, are staying, leaving only one vacancy. Mexican restaurant Los Agaves closed in May after 14 years in business. The property managers report they are in discussions with several fast casual restaurant concepts and hope to have a deal in place to announce after the first of the year.
For the west building, Burlington Coat Factory will occupy the 40,000 sq. ft. space in the center and plans to begin their interior build out next month. The endcap tenants for that building have not yet been announced.
The two outlots have both been spoken for and Outback Steakhouse is already under construction at the corner closest to the Wabash and Veterans Parkway intersection. It is scheduled to open in February 2018. Core Life Eatery, a fast causal restaurant that prides itself on serving healthy meals, has signed a lease for the smaller 3,500 square foot outlot. It will be the first location in Springfield, although Core Life Eatery has one other Illinois location, in Peoria.
The façades of the east building are being upgraded and that parking area has been paved, along with new LED lights. The work on the west building is scheduled to be completed by mid-November, with all site work to be completed by February 2018.
Unlike the former Kmart on MacArthur Boulevard which sat vacant for years before being redeveloped by Hy-Vee, this one has been quickly transformed into an attractive destination for shopping and dining with a mix of existing tenants and new businesses for consumers to patronize.