J.C. Penney implosion hits two New York City malls

Layoffs, closure dates announced for Manhattan Mall, Kings Plaza


J.C. Penney’s bankruptcy is resulting in a bloodbath for its employees and pain for its landlords.

The retail chain, which will close nearly a third of its 846 stores over the next two years as part of its bankruptcy restructuring, is laying off all of its employees in its Kings Plaza and Manhattan Mall locations.

J.C. Penney’s Manhattan Mall store anchors the retail property and served as the company’s introduction to the borough. The 150,000-square-foot Penney required a reconfiguration of the now 110-year-old building at 100 West 33rd Street by its owner, Vornado Realty Trust.

The store will close at the end of the month, costing 304 employees their jobs, according to a WARN notice filed with the state by J.C. Penney made public Thursday.

The notice cites Covid-19 as the reasoning behind the closings, although the company was struggling long before the pandemic. At the end of last year J.C. Penney had roughly $3.8 billion in debt.

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J.C. Penney is also the anchor tenant for Kings Plaza Mall in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn, where 142 employees are being laid off through the store’s last day, Sept. 27, according to the WARN notice.

The sale of the mall was the largest commercial transaction of the year in 2012, when Macerich bought it from Vornado. Since then, malls, including Kings Plaza, have withered as e-commerce gained market share.

On Long Island, the retailer’s presence has already shrunk down to one location: Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City.

In total, J.C. Penney expects to cut 1,000 of its roughly 85,000 jobs. The company’s biggest hope may be Authentic Brands Group, along with Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners, which are reportedly in talks to scoop up the retailer.

Contact Sasha Jones at sasha.jones@therealdeal.com