History of Sears Building Conversions

Over the years, many vacant Sears buildings across the country have been converted to various uses, including:

  1. Mixed-use developments: Combining retail, office, and residential spaces. For example, the Sears building in Minneapolis was converted into the Midtown Global Market, a cultural and commercial center with food stalls, shops, and office space.
  2. Offices: Conversion to office, often for technology and creative companies. For example, the Sears building in Oakland, California, was converted into the Uptown Station, a mixed-use development that includes office space for Square, a financial services company.
  3. Apartments: Conversion to apartments, often for affordable or market-rate housing. For example, the Sears building in San Francisco was converted into a mixed-use development that includes 27 floors of apartments and retail and office space.
  4. Hotels: Some Sears buildings have been converted into hotels, often preserving historic architecture and features. For example, the Sears building in Atlanta, Georgia, was converted into the Ponce City Market, a mixed-use development that includes a hotel, office space, and retail.

However, if we consider conversions into new uses, the most popular Sears department store conversion is likely the Sears building in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which was converted into the Midtown Global Market. The market features food stalls, shops, and office space and has become a popular destination for locals and tourists. The conversion of the building was completed in 2006 and has been credited with helping to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood.

There are several reasons why there may be hesitance in the commercial real estate market for department store conversions.

  1. The Cost of converting a large department store can be high, and developers may hesitate to take on such a large and complex project. There may also be zoning or regulatory issues that need to be addressed, as well as challenges in securing financing for the project.
  2. The location may not be suitable for the intended use of the converted space. For example, a department store in a suburban area may need to be better suited for a mixed-use development with residential units.
  3. The long-term viability of specific commercial uses, such as office space or retail, could impact the conversion project’s profitability.
  4. Retail is rapidly evolving due to e-commerce and changes in consumer behavior, which can create uncertainty around future demand for retail space.

Overall, significant box department store conversions have provided opportunities to repurpose large retail spaces, often in suburban areas, into new and innovative uses that serve the needs of local communities. These conversions can help to revitalize underutilized spaces, bring new businesses and services to the area, and create opportunities for economic growth.

EJR Group is currently working on a vacant Sears conversion for one of our Clients. We’re excited about the opportunity to solve this quiz creatively. Stay tuned for updates! 
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Erin Jackson

Owner Representative


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