sears1

Except for some plaques over doorways, this sign is the only indication of the former presence of Sears in Great Northern Mall.

NORTH OLMSTED

A local investment firm has bought the Sears building on the southeast corner of Great Northern Mall for $7.75 million.

The sale to the George Group-Great Northern, Ltd., closed Sept. 9, according to Cuyahoga County records. George Group-Great Northern Ltd., is an arm of the George Group Corp., based in Lakewood. The corporation owns numerous restaurants, car dealerships and other enterprises around Northeast Ohio, said President Thomas George, who launched the Harry Buffalo restaurant chain.

Potential developers or retail tenants already have shown interest in the Sears space, George said, but he has made no decision on the future use of the building.

“I’m still trying to get my arms around it,” George said.

Purchasing the Sears store was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, George said. It was easily the largest vacant retail space available on the west side of Greater Cleveland, he said.

“It’s a great corner, a high-profile great location with lots of potential,” he said.

George promised his corporation will think “outside the box” when renovating and developing the space.

“It’s going to be a unique thing,” George said. He stated a belief that redevelopment of the building will benefit North Olmsted and the mall, which he described as “dying.”

The seller was TF North Olmsted OH LLC, incorporated in Ohio in 2019, and based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. The corporation owned the Harry Buffalo restaurant opposite Sears on Great Northern Boulevard. George had the right of first refusal regarding any sale of the Sears and restaurant buildings, which he said he exercised on two or three occasions. He declined to name the potential buyers or why he nixed the sales.

“Let’s just say we made the decision to control our own destiny,” George said. He described the former owners of the Sears building as good landlords, adding he didn’t want to chance dealing with a different landlord.

The Harry Buffalo building opened as a Bennigan’s Grill and Tavern.

The former Sears property has great potential and is very attractive for redevelopment given its location and visibility, said North Olmsted Director of Planning and Community Development Kimberly Lieber.

“Great Northern is the heart of our commercial center and the city is supportive of future-thinking and creative ideas for the reuse of the site,” she said.

Mayor Kevin Kennedy said he is looking forward to seeing what they come up with for the building.

The Sears property consists of two buildings, according to the Cuyahoga County website. One building is a two-story retail space consisting of 158,542 square feet. It was built in 1975. The other building was a Sears automotive service garage and covers 20,861 square feet.

The county has assessed the property at $5.6 million.

Great Northern management did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact this reporter at tcorrigan@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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