Sept. 19--The partners in a joint venture to redevelop the struggling Eastern Hills Mall into a mixed-use "town center" have purchased the Sears store at the mall from the retailer's parent company. The store will continue to operate following the transaction.
A limited liability company formed by New Jersey-based Mountain Development Corp. and Amherst-based Uniland Development Co. paid $6.8 million to acquire a 20-acre property that includes the store at 4475 Transit Road, according to the companies and documents filed Wednesday with the Erie County Clerk's Office.
The 154,814-square-foot, two-story Sears store and the property were owned separately by Sears Holding Corp. from the rest of the mall, which is owned by Mountain Development.
Sears Holding Corp. did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday afternoon on why the retailer sold the property and what the sale means for the store's long-term future.
The Eastern Hills Mall hosts one of two remaining Sears stores in the area, with the other located at the McKinley Mall.
"We are very pleased to add another 20 acres that the Sears acquisition represents to the 80 that we already own," Uniland Vice President Carl Montante Jr. said in a statement. "It expands the potential to develop a variety of complementary uses to create a dense live, work, play community that's walkable and vibrant."
Uniland and Mountain are planning to transform the Eastern Hills Mall into an open-air, walkable town center, anchored by new housing and a mix of retail, restaurants and community attractions.
The companies are studying how best to proceed with the town center development. The Clarence Town Board last month rezoned 107 acres of mall property, including the Sears, from major arterial, commercial and restricted business to a newly created lifestyle center district that allows for denser and residential development within the mixed-use project.
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