WATCHUNG, NJ – Is it closing or not?
That is the question many local residents have been speculating as it relates to long-standing Sears storefront on 1640 Route 22 in Watchung and the neighboring Sears Auto Center.
Earlier this month, Sears Holdings issued a statement that the company would be closing 42 Sears stores and over 100 K-Mart stores this spring, including four locations in New Jersey. However, the Sears location in Watchung was not on the closure list. Further, Daniel Schroeder, store manager at Sears - Watchung, today told TAPintoSPF that there are currently no immediate plans to close the store.
However, according to MyCentralJersey.com, the Watchung Planning Board on Tuesday, Feb. 21, is scheduled to hear a proposal from Seritage Growth Properties to demolish the main department store and replace it with a shopping center consisting of several storefronts. The original hearing was scheduled for Nov. 15, but was pushed back due to the applicant’s ‘lack of notice.’
Seritage Growth Properties owns the retail space, and, according to its website, the organization currently leases 224 of their wholly-owned properties to Sears Holdings. A publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT), Seritage lists the 214,590 sq. ft. Sears department store and the 48,310 sq. ft. Sears Auto Center as "available for lease." Phone calls to the real estate broker were not immediately returned.