The shuttered Sears department store at the corner of Harlem and North avenues could be headed toward redevelopment with the selection of a lead developer for the site.
Judith Alexander, chair of the community group The North Avenue District (T-NAD), reports in her monthly North Avenue newsletter that Highland Park-based Tucker Development Corp. has been chosen as the local developer by Seritage Growth Properties, a real estate investment trust for Sears and Kmart properties.
Alexander confirmed in a telephone interview that Chicago Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) has said publicly that Tucker will lead the project. Taliaferro, who could not immediately be reached for comment, is expected to discuss the topic further at a public meeting at Rutherford Sayre Park field house, 6871 W. Belden Ave., on Feb. 21 at 6 p.m.
Representatives from Tucker also could not immediately be reached for comment.
Tucker has developed retail shopping centers and other properties in Chicago, Highland Park, Wheaton and Lincolnwood, among others.
Alexander believes the development company’s work on Marketplace at Six Corners, an 11-acre site at the intersection of Cicero Avenue, Irving Park Road and Milwaukee Avenue, could have helped get them named for the project.
Marketplace, which was developed in the mid-1990s, included a renovated Sears department store. That development used tax increment district funding on the project that also included a Jewel-Osco grocery store and Marshall’s department store, according to Tucker’s website.
It’s been four years since redevelopment of the Sears property at 1601 N. Harlem Ave. was seriously considered. Sears was in negotiations in 2014 to locate a Mariano’s grocery store at the site, with Continental Properties as the lead developer. That plan also included demolishing the existing Sears and rebuilding a smaller Sears store and locating one or two restaurants along the North Avenue.
That plan was declared dead in 2015, the same year the property was sold to Seritage, which purchased over 250 Sears and Kmart stores from Sears Holding Company.
In 2017, Seritage put the three-story property up for partial lease, making only 131,359 square feet of the 356,744-square-foot building available. A few month later, Sears announced it was closing the location.
Alexander said no details have been shared concerning what might replace the Sears, but added that T-NAD supports more residential development in the district.
“There is more office and retail space than there is demand for, so residential development is obviously part of the answer,” she said.