PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Sears at the Berkshire Mall is slated for closure.
The company announced on Thursday the pending closure of 18 Sears stores and 45 Kmarts. The Berkshire Mall's location had been spared from earlier rounds of store closures by Sears Holdings but is part of the latest.
"Sears Holdings continues its strategic assessment of the productivity of our Kmart and Sears store base and will continue to right size our store footprint in number and size. In the process, as previously announced we will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members," reads a statement from the Sears Holdings.
"The company on Thursday, November 2 informed associates at 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears stores that we will be closing these stores in late January 2018. It's important to note that these stores will remain open to serve members during the holiday season."
Sears said eligible employees will receive severance packages and the opportunity to apply to other Sears and Kmart stores. Liquidation sales at the stores will begin as early as Nov. 9. The auto center is set to close in December with the rest of the store following it in January.
The mall was sold to new owners a little more than a year ago. Kohan Retail Investment Group purchased it for $3.5 million in September of 2016. Kohan had said he hoped to revitalize it. But, since the purchase bills have piled up.
Ownership fell behind on nearly a quarter of a million in taxes. The company falls behind and then pays a large chunk of what it owes at once. And then a few civil lawsuits were taken out, with the largest being Petricca Construction being awarded $240,000 after the company failed to pay the snowplowing bills.
Meanwhile, the assessed value of the mall has dropped. It was valued at $60.4 million in 2008 and is now valued at $19.5 million, taking a large chunk of revenue from town coffers.
The culmination of losing anchors, unpaid bills, and dropping value triggered alarms among town officials. The Baker Hill Road District is seeking legislative approval to take over ownership of the mall and redevelopment it. The road district is currently tasked with managing the Connector Road and wants approval to take over the property and work with a developer to bring something new there.
That bill, filed by the late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, has passed the House of Representatives and is now before the Senate. The Senate's Rules Committee is now awaiting a report from the Senate Council on the matter, and the council is awaiting a report from the Department of Revenue's Division of Local Services. State Sen. Adam Hinds has taken over ushering it through the Senate.
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