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Seritage To Sell Up To 50 Former Sears Properties To Fund Development Efforts

The former Sears at Bowie Town Center in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

A passel of former big-box stores is about to hit the market, possibly opening up more retail-to-industrial conversion opportunities.

Seritage Growth Properties will be putting 40 to 50 of the former Sears sites it owns up for sale, Bloomberg reports. Seritage CEO Andrea Olshan, who took on the top role at the Sears real estate spinoff after leaving her family company, Olshan Properties, in February, called the properties she selected to sell off "less interesting in terms of uses of our capital" but expressed confidence in there being interest from potential buyers.

“The sales market’s robust in terms of demand,” Olshan told Bloomberg. “And lately, there hasn’t been a lot on the market.”

Hedge fund mogul Eddie Lampert created Seritage in 2015 when he spun off over 250 Sears properties in his capacity as the retailer's executive chairman and CEO. Lampert paid Sears $2.7B for the properties, which he used to pay down some of its debt at the time, but by the end of 2018, Seritage had flourished and Sears was in bankruptcy. Lampert stepped down as both chairman and CEO of Sears but bought most of its retail assets as part of bankruptcy proceedings.

Despite its relatively advantageous position, Seritage still suffered losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reports. In order to continue its years-long project of re-leasing or redeveloping the former Sears properties it owns, it needs to raise cash. One direction Olshan hopes to take the properties that will remain in Seritage's portfolio is by leasing them to grocery stores, and another will be to continue to seek developer partners to repurpose its sites.

Whether in partnership with Seritage or in buying one of the assets it will put on the market, developers could explore these sites, which average 13 acres, as redevelopment opportunities. Retail-to-industrial conversions at former big-box stores have continued to rise in popularity as demand for new distribution centers keeps spiraling upward.