Real Estate

How 2 Shuttered Sears Stores in Texas Found New Life


The patrons could also be gone, however two huge adaptive reuse initiatives in Texas present that many shuttered Sears shops nonetheless occupy worthwhile actual property that may as soon as once more anchor a growth.

The 2 Texas initiatives, one in Dallas and the opposite in Houston, lately acquired CoStar Impression Awards for being efficiently transformed from department shops into new makes use of that fill a group want, in keeping with their builders. One former Sears retailer, in South Dallas, will quickly host two outpatient medical services totaling 150,000 sq. toes. One other, in downtown Houston, has reopened as a 266,000-square-foot “innovation hub” with workplace area, prototyping labs and different facilities for nascent companies.

LoopNet spoke with the builders behind each initiatives to determine why they had been interested in the previous Sears shops, how they transformed the buildings to new makes use of and whether or not their initiatives provide a blueprint for revitalizing malls throughout the nation.


Dallas is house to dozens of hospitals, however only one is positioned south of Interstate 30, which cuts by downtown.

That north-south divide highlights the disparity in entry to medical care that has solely been exacerbated through the pandemic. That’s why Peter Brodsky, a former private-equity investor turned actual property developer, needed healthcare companies to anchor the previous shopping center he’s redeveloping in South Dallas. Previously the Crimson Fowl (then Southwest Heart) Mall, the newly christened Retailers at RedBird property will turn into a mixed-use growth together with flats, workplace area, leisure, plus the 2 outpatient services coming to the previous Sears retailer.

“Southern Dallas is a very misunderstood part of our city,” Brodsky stated. “It is filled with people who have plenty of purchasing power, but who the commercial markets have not provided with the quality amenities that they want. We found out pretty quickly that you can’t really name a quality amenity that that there isn’t too little of. This is an under-doctored area.”

A rendering of the completed Retailers at RedBird challenge in Dallas. (Retailers at RedBird/Omni Plan)

Brodsky stated his group reached out to each medical establishment in Dallas. Three of them might be tenants on the RedBird property. Parkland Well being signed on to open a main care clinic in a part of a former Dillard’s retailer on the mall, and College of Texas Southwestern signed a 15-year lease to open a specialty care clinic on the primary ground of the previous Sears. Kids’s Well being of Dallas is subleasing the 2nd ground of the Sears retailer from UT Southwestern for a pediatric outpatient clinic.

Changing elements of a shuttered mall to medical use has been carried out earlier than. Brodsky’s companion within the RedBird challenge, Terrence Maiden of Russell Glen Co., helped convey Vanderbilt Well being to One Hundred Oaks Mall in Nashville, Tennessee, greater than a decade in the past. A number of the similar fundamentals that make retail work in an area additionally apply to medical makes use of, the builders stated.

First, malls are usually positioned in areas with buying energy, Brodsky stated. They’re additionally typically conveniently positioned with good entry for each private and non-private transportation. And there’s loads of floor parking for guests.

“All of those things are great for a medical facility,” Brodsky stated.

Controlling prices was the primary incentive to rehabilitate the Sears retailer as an alternative of tearing it down. Decrease challenge prices additionally enabled the RedBird group to supply decrease hire to UT Southwestern, whose strong-credit, long-term lease settlement led to $28.6 million in development loans from Veritex Neighborhood Financial institution.

“[RedBird] came to us with a financing request that was honestly a little bit hard to do,” stated Leo Smith, a vp at Veritex. “They were requesting 100% financing. Obviously with UT Southwestern being a credit tenant for a 15-year lease, from that perspective, that made it a lot easier for us.”

Not demolishing the previous Sears retailer additionally allowed RedBird to maintain the medical facility connected to the remainder of the challenge.

“We wanted to have the opportunity for patients and staff members to come into the mall to kill time before an appointment or grab lunch,” Brodsky stated.

Reusing the constructing additionally saved time on development. The group constructed across the retailer’s basis, ground and metal columns. The Sears challenge broke floor in October 2020 and can welcome its first sufferers in July.

There have been nonetheless obstacles to changing the previous division retailer right into a medical facility, nevertheless. Mall anchor shops usually have huge ground plates that don’t provide sufficient pure mild for sufferers in a medical facility.

“The challenge that you have to get creative about is, how do you create [a space] where it feels open and not buried in a retail box.”Terrence Maiden, Developer

The group, together with structure agency Perkins+Will, did a number of issues throughout development to make the previous Sears retailer really feel extra open. They added home windows to every infusion (IV) remedy room and constructed a zen backyard close to the north facet of the constructing to offer sufferers one thing to take a look at in addition to a mall parking zone. Different development enhancements included including to the shop’s basis to raised help heavy equipment reminiscent of imaging gear, and constructing out separate hallways and entrances to examination rooms for sufferers and medical workers, to create an “onstage, offstage” impact.

It is “sort of like Disneyland, where you never see the back of house,” Brodsky stated.

An aerial view of the Sears retailer conversion underway in Dallas. (Russell Glen Co.)


The Houston web site didn’t simply lose a Sears, the property additionally misplaced out on its bid for Amazon’s sought-after second headquarters, generally known as HQ2.

Rice Administration Co., which stewards Rice College’s $8.1 billion endowment and has managed the positioning since 2018, pivoted from its HQ2 bid to creating an area “innovation district” geared toward spurring new financial exercise and conserving Houston aggressive amongst its friends.

The area, generally known as the Ion District, might be anchored by a former 266,000-square-foot Sears retailer now generally known as The Ion that hosts, amongst different issues, new places of work for Chevron Expertise Ventures and Microsoft.

Rice Administration spent $120 million changing the previous Sears retailer.

“The original Sears building has an irreplaceable structure that includes high ceilings, robust columns, and huge floor plates – nearly double that of a typical downtown building – which creates open space for people to collaborate,” Ryan LeVasseur, managing director of actual property at Rice Administration, advised LoopNet. “It would be cost-prohibitive to create a new structure that would replicate the desirable dimensions and character of the existing Sears building.”

The Ion contains Class A workplace area, shared workspaces, school rooms, a 250-seat discussion board that hosts month-to-month pitch competitions, a machine prototyping lab, in addition to indoor and outside communal areas. The aim is to draw Houston’s expertise pipeline throughout varied industries reminiscent of vitality and aerospace, and to bolster collaboration. The Ion’s present occupancy is at 60%, together with long-term tenants and month-to-month desk and workplace leases that begin at $250 per thirty days.

Rice maintained some authentic parts of the constructing, restoring its terrazzo flooring and letting its tones affect the constructing’s colour palette. Rice eliminated the shop’s exterior partitions in favor of a brand new curtain wall, however restored and repurposed street-level “showcase windows,” which at the moment are occupied by public artwork as an alternative of mannequins.

James Carpenter Design Associates launched a skylight and 100-foot-wide “light well” to convey extra pure mild into the Houston constructing. (G. Lyon Images)

Just like the Dallas challenge, introducing extra pure mild into the shop was a problem. To do that, James Carpenter Design Associates created a 100-foot-wide “light well” slicing by the constructing at an angle, following the trail of the solar from a skylight above. Additionally they developed an out of doors communal area referred to as the Ion Plaza.

“Where commercial properties typically turn inward, The Ion Plaza is intended to set the standard in the Ion District and for other spaces, to create a place for people to come together,” LeVasseur stated.

Like many different initiatives through the pandemic, The Ion was affected by materials shortages and provide chain delays. Holdups in receiving furnishings, specialised metallic surfaces and constructing permits postponed the constructing’s opening by about two months. Building began in July 2019, and The Ion opened to tenants final 12 months.

Rice seeks a growth companion for the remainder of the estimated $1 billion Ion District challenge. Local weather-tech incubator Greentown Labs Houston and nonprofit musical theatre firm Theatre Below the Stars have already signed on.

“Our team is working hard to ensure the Ion District is a job-generating neighborhood fueled by clean and sustainable technologies and the entrepreneurial drive to find a better way,” LeVasseur stated.

A publicly accessible outside plaza abuts The Ion challenge. (Shannon O’Hara Images)


The Sears redevelopment initiatives in Dallas and Houston are much like different work being carried out throughout the nation.

In Norfolk, Virginia, a developer has transformed a historic Ames & Brownley division retailer right into a 50,000-square-foot workplace constructing for inventive corporations, tech startups and freelancers. The second part of the challenge, set to start subsequent 12 months, will lengthen to the previous Sears retailer subsequent door and add one other 53,000 sq. toes to the event.

Department shops like Sears lend themselves nicely to makes use of requiring huge ground plates like places of work and medical facilities, however these massive ground plates stay a problem for different makes use of, reminiscent of residential.

“You could never turn a department store into an apartment building because you need to have natural light in all the apartments,” Brodsky stated. “You don’t need to have natural light in every single exam room.”

Moreover controlling price and inheriting adaptable department shops, each Texas builders inform LoopNet that there’s one other profit to rehabbing a shuttered Sears retailer: the nostalgia that it brings guests.

“We are privileged to meet Houstonians who are reminded of childhood memories with their parents or grandparents coming to buy a new appliance or their new shoes for the start of the school year,” LeVasseur stated. “It is a joy to witness how the preservation of a simple box of a building can rekindle warm emotions and thoughts of loved ones.”



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