Merlone Geier planning $370M Glendale Sears project

Developer to build 682 apartments at site of shuttered store

Merlone Geier Managing Partners' Peter J. Merlone with 236 North Central Avenue
Merlone Geier Managing Partners' Peter J. Merlone with 236 North Central Avenue (Getty, Merlone Geier)

San Diego developer Merlone Geier is planning a $370 million redevelopment of a shuttered Sears store in Glendale.

Plans for the site call for the construction of a 682-unit residential complex with 38,100 square feet of space for a public park, according to a design narrative that the firm provided to The Real Deal. The proposed structure will include 665 apartments, 17 live-work units and amenities such as an outdoor pool and a fitness center.

The store, located at 236 North Central Avenue in downtown Glendale, closed in 2020 after 85 years in operation, previous reports show. It was part of a round of store closings that came months after Transformco, the parent company of Sears and Kmart, announced a liquidation sale of 51 Sears and 45 KMart locations.

“This property was acquired from Sears with the understanding that they would be vacating as part of an overall corporate restructuring. As such the existing improvements are obsolete and no longer the highest and best use given the city’s plans for redevelopment and more housing in the downtown area,” Jamas Gwilliam, a managing director at Merlone Geier, said when asked about the strategy behind the redevelopment.

The 182,300-square-foot Glendale property, which was built in 1935, was marketed for lease after Sears vacated the site, according to a brochure on Merlone Geier’s website. Sears Auto Center continued to occupy a 5,600-square-foot portion of the site after the store’s closure but has since closed.

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Merlone Geier plans to demolish the existing building on the property as well as a three-level parking garage on North Orange Street. The project site, which sits on a 4.6-acre lot, also covers parcels at 216 and 220 North Central Avenue, 309 and 315 North Orange Street and 212 West California Avenue, city records show. The ground floor of the proposed structure will be set aside for the live-work units. The public park, meanwhile, will be built on the site of the parking garage.

The project is currently undergoing a preliminary design review, according to documents filed with the city of Glendale. Merlone Geier plans to start construction on the site in the third quarter of 2024. Meanwhile, completion of the project is estimated by the second or third quarter of 2027.

The redevelopment further reduces Merlone Geier’s Southern California retail portfolio. The firm recently sold 38003 47th Street East, a 250,000-square-foot mall in Palmdale, for $57 million. The deal was the company’s second retail transaction in Palmdale within the span of a month. It previously sold 39340 10th Street West, a 214,000-square-foot retail center, for $57.3 million.

The company is redeveloping the Laguna Hills Mall in South Orange County.
Plans for the site, which were approved by Laguna Hills officials in March, call for 1,500 apartments, 465,000 square feet of offices, a 150-room hotel and 250,000 square feet of retail space.

Update: Developer provided construction budget and other included details to The Real Deal.