Earlier this year, one of the odder moments in Chicago real estate played out in the local media. Chicago Public Schools announced that it was downsizing its head office, which meant leaving the building at 125 North Clark and moving into a building with the exact same address as Sears on State.
Did that mean the very obviously struggling department store was going to close its State Street flagship location?
Sears issued a brief but stoic statement refusing to admit the store was closing. It was like an Iraqi foreign minister standing in front of the foreign press denying the American army was in his country while a column of tanks bearing Stars and Stripes rumbled through the desert behind him.
“But the school system is very specific about which space it will occupy— Clearly the retail portion of the building.”
Remaining in full Baghdad Bob mode, Sears went radio silent. Until a few weeks later when, surprise, it started telling employees that their services were no longer needed.
Fast forward a few more months, and we’ve all finished lamenting the loss of another major retailer on State Street, and how the mighty hometown brand has fallen. To be honest, the store wasn’t very good. In ten years of living a few blocks away from that store I only went there to buy a wooden spoon, a vacuum cleaner belt, and a pack of underpants. I probably returned the underpants.
Now the building is about to enter a new phase of its life. The city has issued revised permits to convert the basement, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 9th floors into offices, as well as add a new entryway.
Even though CPS has decided to turn its back on State Street, changing the address from 2 North State to 1 North Dearborn, State Street might not end up with a row of dead ground-floor windows as some feared. Earlier this year Crain’s Chicago Business reported that CVS was interested in opening a 23,000 square-foot store in the building.