Already smarting from the upcoming loss of Toys R Us, which is holding liquidation sales at its doomed stores, North Riverside learned this week that Carson Pirie Scott at the North Riverside Park Mall, 7501 Cermak Road, is in danger of closing its doors this year.
Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. on Thursday received a letter from The Bon Ton Stores, which is Carson’s parent company, notifying him that the company intends to close the North Riverside store, which employs roughly 160 people.
“The closing is expected to be permanent and will affect the entire operation,” states the letter from Gail Monreal, vice president of human resources for the Bon Ton Stores.
Monreal states in the letter that “the first separation from employment” is expected to be June 5 and that the process for closure would take several months. The letter was written in order for the company to notify affected employees and comply with federal labor law.
However, later in the same letter, Monreal states that the “timetable for closing is based on the best information available, although it is subject to change as we evaluate our options, including option of selling the business and continuing as a going concern and subject to any actions of the bankruptcy court.”
The Bon Ton Stores, which is headquartered in Milwaukee and in York, Pennsylvania, operates 260 stores under the names Carson’s, Bon Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers.
The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early February, and at the time announced it was closing 42 stores, which are already in the process of winding down operations.
North Riverside’s store was not among those slated for closure, but that has changed as the store’s prospects for survival apparently have grown more precarious.
The Bon Ton stores had hoped a savior might be able to come up with a bid that would satisfy its creditors. Earlier this week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that two mall owners, Nadmar Realty Group and Washington Prime Group, were putting together a bid to save the stores in their shopping centers.
North Riverside Park Mall is owned by the Feil Organization.
Meanwhile, the Journal Sentinel reported on April 4, that liquidation firms, partnering with bondholders, were planning to submit a $740 million bid for the company, which would result in liquidation. Bids were due April 4.
As of Friday morning, the Bon Ton Stores had not publicly announced its plans either to liquidate or accept a bid that might keep some of its existing stores open.
Harvey Ahitow, general manager of North Riverside Park Mall, said that The Bon Ton Stores Inc. owns the space Carson’s occupies.
Ahitow said he has talked with an official from the company, who said no decisions have been announced related to any more store closures.
“There are ongoing negotiations and we don’t know what the outcome will be,” Ahitow said.
If Carson’s closes its doors, the only remaining original anchor at North Riverside Park Mall would be J.C. Penney. North Riverside Park Mall opened in the mid-1970s, anchored by Carson’s, Penney’s and Montgomery Ward.
Montgomery Ward closed in 2001 and was replaced by Sears at the far north end of the mall. Amid its own struggles in recent years, Sears consolidated its North Riverside location on just one floor in the north anchor location last December.
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