Struggling retailer Sears may not have closed its store at Northgate Mall in Durham last week, when it shut down 72 stores nationwide, but it has sold its property there for more than $6 million.
Northwood Investors, a Colorado-based real estate investment company, has purchased the nearly 12 acres that Sears owned at Northgate Mall for $6.5 million, according to Durham County records. Efforts to reach Northwood Investors were not immediately successful.
While Sears has shuttered hundreds of stores in recent years, due to declining sales, the company has also sought to offload at least a billion dollars of real estate assets across the country.
In April, the Illinois-based retailer sold its property at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh for almost $20 million.
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Sears still owns its property at Southpoint Mall in southern Durham, according to county records. Efforts to reach a representative from Sears were not immediately successful.
Like it did at Crabtree Valley Mall, Sears has signed a leaseback agreement with its new property owner, meaning the store will not be going out of business at Northgate in the foreseeable future, according to county records.
Northwood — which has invested in the Carolina Square project in Chapel Hill and the Van Alen project in downtown Durham through its Northwood Ravin subsidiary — has a history of purchasing Sears properties.
Northwood already owns Sears properties in Cambridge, Mass., Centennial, Colo. and Pittsburgh, which the company describes on its website as "three income-generating properties in high-quality markets with the ability to create significant value through redevelopment."
The Sears at Northgate, originally built in 1973, is comprised of two buildings, one part of the mall itself and the other a freestanding automotive center. Melodie Pugh, director of marketing at Northgate Associates, said that Sears has been "very steady" for Northgate Mall and that is was a positive that it was staying open.
Pugh added that she did not know how long Sears' new lease was.
The sale of the Sears property is the second large transaction to take place at Northgate Mall in recent times.
Last December, Duke University purchased part of the mall that had been vacated by a Macy's department store. Duke, who purchased the store for $4.5 million, plans to turn it into administrative offices and medical clinics for Duke University Health System.