The iconic Flatbush Sears, which has been in business for nearly 90 years, is slated to close in November.
The store originally opened in 1932 on the corner of Beverley Road and Bedford Avenue in a towering (for low-rise Brooklyn, at least) Art Deco style building. The three-story behemoth was granted landmark status in 2012, in part due to its significance in the cultural and architectural history of New York City.
Although landmark designation will protect the facade and 100-foot limestone tower from demolition, the future of the property remains unknown. A company specializing in retail store liquidations recently listed the Sears location on its “stores closing list,” and once the company officially shuts its doors a parcel the size of a city block will be left up for grabs.
After Sears filed for bankruptcy in 2018, privately-held firm Transformco purchased the surviving assets. Scott Carr, president of real estate for Transformco, told The City that the location has potential for redevelopment, but did not specify their plans.
“We intend to reinvigorate and maximize the value of the real estate to meet the needs of the Brooklyn market,” Carr said.
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Back in April 2020, the Sears location closed temporarily and their massive parking lot became one of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s drive-through Covid testing facilities.
The impending shutdown of the Flatbush Sears also signals the death knell for the location’s basement Kmart, a brand that merged with Sears back in 2005. In July, Kmart closed its remaining Manhattan outpost—a store that operated for close to 25 years in Astor Place (with sort-of good bathrooms). A Wegmans grocery store will take its place.
As the pandemic drags on, companies pivot to e-commerce, and consumer interest in physical outposts wanes, Sears has shuttered locations across the country. The last Sears in Illinois is slated to close in November as well, according to CNBC.
Some Brooklyn residents mourn the loss of the affordable shopping center, which has been around for generations of Brooklyn families.
Lorna Phillips, a clothing designer who’s lived in Flatbush for 38 years, told The City that the closure will be a major loss for the surrounding community: “When we lose good things, it becomes heart-rending.”