The Sears store that has anchored Spotsylvania Towne Centre since the mall opened in 1980 will be closing, and will likely be torn down to make way for an apartment building.

Transformco, which acquired Sears and Kmart out of bankruptcy, announced Thursday that it will be shuttering 51 Sears stores, including the one at the mall, in February as part of its latest round of closings. The going-out-of-business sales will begin Dec. 2, and the locations are expected to close in mid-February.

“It not totally unexpected,” said Joe Bell, spokesman for mall owner Cafaro Co. “They have been consistently closing on a regular basis.”

He said that Cafaro, which owns 16 enclosed malls, has been talking about new uses for that property for some time.

“There are plans in the works to create an apartment complex,” Bell said. “It’s still in the planning stages.”

Cafaro is considering tearing down the Sears store and building 270 apartments and 500 square feet of commercial space in what is now the parking lot for the store.

“It would provide housing that we feel will be much in demand,” Bell said. “We’re talking about moderate-to-upper income housing.”

He said the apartments would likely appeal to young professionals and empty nesters.

Cafaro is partnering with Bonaventure Construction, a Richmond company, on the project, and will need to have the property rezoned. Bell said Cafaro is eyeing a similar plan for another of its properties.

A community meeting held last July to discuss the potential of building an apartment complex at the Spotsylvania Towne Centre drew a mixed reaction from residents. Most who spoke appeared to oppose the idea, with several citing possible increased traffic on already congested State Route 3.

Transformco is closing three other Sears locations in Virginia besides the one in Spotsylvania Towne Centre. They are in Richmond, Manassas and Winchester.

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Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

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