The only remaining Kmart store in Fort Smith will close to the public on Nov. 15, ending a 30-year presence in the area.
Kim Freely, spokesperson for Chicago-based Sears Holding Corp., confirmed to The City Wire that the Kmart store at 7434 Rogers Ave. will close Nov. 15, leaving 47 employees there looking for work. Freely said the company will work with the 47 to offer severance packages or jobs at openings at other Kmart locations. She said all employees were notified Aug. 6 of the store closing.
The store was opened at the location in 1979, according to Freely.
The approximate 106,300-square-foot building is owned by Financial Properties Developers, according to information from the Sebastian County Assessor’s office. The Assessor’s office has the 2009 tax appraisal value at $2.219 million for the land (about 9.05 acres) and $1.615 million for the building.
The property is owned by Violet Burton Isaacks of Fort Smith, and she is represented by Jimmie Taylor Realtors. Jimmie Taylor said Monday afternoon Kmart had not notified them of the decision.
Freely would not say why the company decided to not renew the lease. She said a going-out-of-business sale would begin Aug. 30, with the company vacating the property by Nov. 30. Freely said there were no plans by Kmart to open a new store in the Fort Smith area.
Two commercial property developers in the Fort Smith area said it’s possible the building could be demolished and the property reconfigured.
“That’s a good location and with a good price, that property will be absorbed by the market. It really doesn’t have the obsolescence and visibility of other (commercial) properties around town,” said Lance Beaty, a partner with Fort Smith-based Nelson & Beaty Co. — the company that recently purchased and is now renovating the old Phoenix Village Mall property.
Beaty did say the property adds to the large amount of commercial space now vacant. Fort Smith commercial Realtor Jim Nunnelee agrees.
“It just makes a bad situation worse. With all the empty space out there ... that’s going to be a tough box (building) to fill. It will probably have to be divided up,” Nunnelee said, adding that the land might possibly be worth as much without the building than with it.
The construction of The Pavilion — the large mall anchored by Target and Best Buy — added about 500,000 square feet to the Fort Smith commercial market. The result was numerous vacancies of large buildings — especially along Rogers Avenue in Fort Smith.
Nunnelee, active in the regional commercial real estate market since 1992, said the market “is still real slow, but we are starting to see a little activity, at least more than earlier in the year.”
Kmart, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corp., operates 1,368 Kmart stores across 49 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to company info. This store count consists of 1,321 discount stores, averaging 92,000 square feet, and 47 Super Centers, averaging 166,000 square feet. The company declared Chapter 11 reorganization January 2002 and emerged from the filing in May 2003.