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JCPenney announces closure of Lawrence store, several others in Kansas
South Iowa Street is about to lose one of its major, longtime retailers: JCPenney has confirmed that its Lawrence store is among the 138 stores it will close as the retailer tries to shore up its finances.
The company released the full list this morning. The press release says most of the stores will begin the process of liquidating inventory on April 17. I suspect an actual closing date will depend on how quickly the inventory is sold.
There are five stores in Kansas that are slated to close: Lawrence, Hutchinson, Great Bend, Chanute and Winfield.
The closing obviously will mean job losses for JCPenney employees locally, although I don’t have a current estimate on how many people that store employs. Nationwide, the company estimates about 5,000 employees will be impacted by the store closings. The company said it is “in the process of identifying relocation opportunities within the company for esteemed leaders.”
Another big impact for Lawrence will be that one of south Iowa Street’s larger buildings will be vacant. As a reminder, JC Penney is located at 3311 Iowa Street, basically between Target and the Regal theaters.
Lawrence has been through this before when Sears closed its full-line department store at 27th and Iowa (there’s still a hometown Sears store in operation in Lawrence.) That closing, however, ended up working out fairly well for Lawrence. The Sears location has remodeled and now houses four stores — Dick’s Sporting Goods, Boot Barn, PetSmart, and Ulta Beauty —that by all appearances are doing significantly more business than Sears did in recent years. Pretty much the same thing happened several years earlier when Kmart closed its Lawrence store, which was in the location that now houses Bed Bath & Beyond, World Market, and Michaels.
We’ll have to see whether the same thing happens with the JCPenney spot, or whether the building will sit vacant for a significant period of time. In addition to the Penney’s building, the former Hastings building at 23rd and Iowa also is available, and there’s still a significant amount of space available in the old Food-4-Less building at 25th and Iowa streets.
It looks like it will be an interesting time to watch for changes along south Iowa Street.