From catalog to brick-and-mortar to the internet, the shopping patterns of consumers continue to evolve. I’m proud to say that business in the Sears store in The Gardens Mall (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) remains very strong — as it has for decades — but we simply no longer need two floors in the Gardens Mall (165,000 square feet) to sell what we sell so well.
To that end, we have developed a fantastic, new single-level store layout for Sears’ members/customers, and have been working with key national and international retailers in order to create a win/win/win. I say three wins because it includes Sears, a highly sought-after retailer, and, the most important ‘win’ of all, the consumer, who benefits from a smaller Sears store where products are easier to find and well-staffed with experts to help.
It is through this innovative model that we look to bring Dick’s Sporting Goods to sublease our entire upper floor in The Gardens Mall.
This strategy affords consumers access to another retailer and products they wish to experience, all while continuing to provide consumers with the well-known Sears products for which our brand is recognized…and why it has become such an integral part of the Palm Beach Gardens community.
Unfortunately, the Mall’s operator/owner and the former City Council have opposed what we believe to be a very positive step in the next stage of our evolution at The Gardens Mall. The Mall’s operator/owner sought (without telling Sears or any other major retailer at the Gardens) to have the City of Palm Beach Gardens pass a resolution that ostensibly gives both the City and the Mall the right to limit who Sears and the other mall anchors can sublease a portion of its building to — rights Mall ownership never had before.
This resolution is really troubling and should concern every one of us because it subverts private property rights. Imagine if you owned a condominium and wanted (and had the legal right) to rent it to someone, but the City passed a resolution saying you now have to ask them first if you can rent it. This is, in principle, what has happened to Sears.
You see, The Forbes Company, which owns and operates the Mall, leases the land from the McArthur Foundation and then sub-leases part of that land to Sears (what’s known as a ground lease). When the Mall opened in 1988, Sears paid the entire cost to build our store. Back then, Sears was the largest retailer in the world and it was well-established that mall owners needed Sears as a mall anchor in order to secure financing to build their shopping centers. In fact, Sears was given very favorable terms — INCLUDING BROAD SUB-LEASING RIGHTS — to make it attractive for Sears to invest in the location.
Fast-forward 30 years, and Sears is now right-sizing to focus on its best products. But the Mall now feels it would be better-off without us. In fact, Forbes has made many offers to buy Sears out of our lease. But we simply don’t want to leave and we have a lease that gives us the right to stay. Palm Beach Gardens is a great place for Sears. We’ve made a major investment over the years in this community and we intend to stay as a primary anchor in the Gardens Mall. We just want to be smaller and more efficient.
Currently, Forbes has raised the City’s resolution to keep Sears from subleasing to Dick’s Sporting Goods in an effort to help Forbes squeeze Sears into operating a larger-than-necessary store so that Sears may be forced to walk away from the Gardens Mall location.
While Sears is seeking to vindicate its rights in the court system, it is actually the consumer and local voter who may have the ultimate say in the matter. Three of the five City Council member seats are up for election on March 14, 2017. We are asking for the community’s support to vote for candidates who are willing to work in the best interest of the community (namely people’s property and contract rights) and not one business entity at the expense of another.
Sears intends to be part of the Palm Beach Gardens landscape for generations to come and feels Dick’s Sporting Goods is an exceptional benefit to the community as well. With the closing of Sports Authority, the market is void of a sporting goods retailer, let alone the country’s largest and best. This is good for businesses, schools, families, and consumers of all ages.
On a personal note, my parents live in Palm Beach Gardens and I have had the opportunity to see (and experience) the vibrancy of this community first-hand. For the benefit of all, I ask that you support Sears and the candidates for City Council in favor of bringing Dick’s Sporting Goods to The Gardens Mall.
Thank you, Alan Shaw
Vice President, Real Estate Leasing and Development, Sears
By adapting to ever-changing industry trends, Sears has demonstrated its ability to consistently cater to consumers and their needs, all while maintaining a focus on quality.
While the first floor (“lower level”) will remain the “best-of-the-best” of Sears, the upper floor will be repurposed and sub-leased to Dick’s Sporting Goods — who has become a major mall tenant throughout the US. By combining the best of what both retailers have to offer, The Gardens Mall will gain a considerable asset, adequately serving the range of needs of its patrons and the greater community.
Current images of Sears at The Gardens Mall
Renderings of the proposed Dick’s Sporting Goods
Sears’ lease provides the company broad rights to sublease a portion of its property…without the need to provide the landlord the right to approve or object to the sub-tenancy. Sears has sought to do just that.
When Forbes learned that Sears was marketing the space for sublease, they (as admitted in court testimony) asked the City of Palm Beach Gardens to “do something.” The City then helped draft the resolution for Forbes. The resolution requires that all subtenants of [mall anchors] at The Gardens Mall be approved by both the City and mall ownership; contract rights it hadn’t had before.
The City of Palm Beach Gardens gave no notice to the majors at the mall (all of which would be directly impacted by the resolution) and simply posted a notice in City Hall. The resolution was passed and enacted on the City Council’s consent agenda, with no discussion or public hearing.
In the meantime, Sears sought to vindicate its rights in court, and that litigation is still in process. Regardless of the outcome on appeal, it is a major waste of taxpayers’ money for the City to seek to uphold or enforce a “resolution” that is simply bad policy – one that is interfering with contracts and allowing the mall operator to, in effect, control and influence City policy, without even a notice to the other major anchors at The Gardens Mall about a resolution that impacts their rights.
The resolution is wrong and should be rescinded. The City should not have inserted itself in private contractual arrangements between the major retailers at the Gardens and their landlord. And, at bare minimum, the City should have sought input from the major department stores before passing a sweeping resolution impacting their subleasing rights.
It’s not just Sears that is being impacted by this decision. We are one of numerous major mall anchors, all of whom are looking very closely at this decision — not to mention any other major retailer interested in coming to The Gardens Mall.
Why? This resolution means when we sign a lease, our fate is not really in our hands if the municipality can change our private contract and force us to ask for permission to make certain adjustments. This is a very daunting matter. and one that could potentially affect all of us with property rights in the City of Palm Beach Gardens.
Infringing on property rights is a serious matter. Today, it’s Sears that has been attacked…tomorrow, it could be your business or assets.
Convey to your Commissioners, Mayor and City Manager that you disagree with governmental interference in such matters.
As noted above, it is Sears’ every desire to resolve this in an amicable fashion, and continue the long-standing, positive relationship with our friends and customers in Palm Beach Gardens and The Gardens Mall.
Paid political advertisement paid for by Sears, Roebuck & Co., 3333 Beverly Road, Hoffman Estates, IL 60179, independent of any candidate or committee.