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. Among the stores not listed was the Sears location in Watchung.

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Daniel Schroeder, store manager at Sears’ Watchung location said in a brief conversation that there are currently no immediate plans to close down the store.

That, however, shouldn’t necessarily serve as a vote of confidence for its customers as the Watchung Planning Board is scheduled to hear a proposal on Tuesday, February 21 from Seritage Growth Properties, a national real estate firm. The original hearing was scheduled for November 15, but was pushed back due to the applicant’s ‘lack of notice.’

According to MyCentralJersey.com, the plan was to demolish the main department store and replace with a shopping center consisting of several storefronts.

The real estate space is owned by Seritage Growth Properties, which currently leases 224 of their wholly-owned properties to Sears Holdings, according to the company’s website. Seritage lists the 214,590-square-foot Sears property available for lease as well as the 48,310-square-foot auto center, which is available for subdivision.

Phone calls to Seritage were not immediately returned.

For the time being, the Watchung retailor is not scheduled to close. However, don’t be surprised if the once-thriving department store chain announces in the near future yet another casualty in its shrinking fleet of storefronts. There will be more clarity on this subject following the February 21 meeting of the Watchung Planning Board.