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A new apartment complex could be built at the Spotsylvania Towne Centre if the county approves a rezoning request.

The mall owner, Cafaro, is asking Spotsylvania County to rezone just more than 4.8 acres on the side of the mall that houses Sears.

If the Board of Supervisors agrees to rezone the land from commercial to mixed use, an apartment complex with up to 276 units, along with 500 square feet of commercial space, could be built.

The proposed mixed-used project would be built in an area covering the parking lot and the Sears store, Charlie Payne, a local attorney who is representing the mall owner, said of the plan.

A community meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 11 at Salem Baptist Church at 4044 Plank Road.

Payne said he couldn’t speak to the future of the store, which remains open.

Cafaro spokesman Joe Bell said if the project is approved and Sears remains open, the company "has several options" with the store, but he declined to go into specifics.

He said the company has "gotten no indication from Sears that they are closing," but added that with the troubles Sears has experienced in recent years, "we want to be proactive about this if they close."

Like some other big-box retailers, Sears has struggled in recent years, closing thousands of stores and cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs before filing for bankruptcy. Sears' assets were sold to a hedge fund owned by its chairman and former chief executive officer, Eddie Lampert.

Lampert is being challenged in a lawsuit by the previous owner of Sears, and that is something Cafaro is keeping an eye on, because it could lead to more closures, Bell said.

Sears has operated a department store locally for more than 50 years, and has had a store at the Towne Centre since the mall opened in 1980.

If the rezoning is approved, Payne said the apartments and commercial space could be “up and running’ in about two years.

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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