Chicago’s Last Sears Store to Be Reborn

Recycling is all the rage these days.  So when Sears threw two of its Chicago stores in the big blue bin, Tucker Development and Seritage Growth Properties yelled, “Dibs!”

The pair is going all Baywatch on the two former department stores, breathing new life into them by turning them into “mixed-use developments with retail and residential components.”

The first one is at 1601 North Harlem Avenue (North and Harlem) in the North Austin neighborhood.  The other is at 4730 West Irving Park Road (Cicero and Irving Park) in the Old Irving Park neighborhood.

The North and Harlem store closed about eight months ago.  The Cicero and Irving Park location will close this coming July.  It was built in 1938 and is the last Sears in the city where the legendary store started 132 years ago.

Seritage is the real estate arm that Sears spun off in 2015. And it can have my Christmas 1978 Wish Book when it pries the dog-eared tome from my cold, dead hands.

Rendering of the renovated North and Harlem Sears Store (Courtesy of Tucker Development)

Rendering of the renovated North and Harlem Sears Store (Courtesy of Tucker Development)

There’s not a lot of information available yet, like how many residences there will be, if they’ll be apartments or condos, or when the renovation is expected to start and finish.  But the rendering above of the resurrected North and Harlem location looks pretty sweet.  The real test will be to see how the art deco monster on Irving Park Road is treated.  When it opened, it was among the largest department stores in the Midwest.

The North and Harlem reno also includes redoing the Sears Auto Center a few dozen feet away, which is actually in Elmwood Park. And since this was once a department store, you can bet there will be plenty of parking available.

While it may seem strange to some for a department store chain to evolve into a real estate developer, it’s not unheard of.  A number of department stores own the land on which they sit, and use it as a financial instrument.  Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue for two.  And what we know today as the massive New York REIT called Vornado, started as Two Guys, a low-end department store chain where my mom bought me uncomfortable polyester dress slacks for school when I was six. Scary biscuits.

Editor

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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