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Sears

Sears' Lincoln location at Gateway Mall closed in March.

An anchor tenant of Gateway Mall will be closing its doors by March.

Sears told its employees Thursday it will close 80 stores, including its Lincoln location at 6400 O St.

The news arrived Friday with some initial shock, but Gateway General Manager Chad Becwar said it wasn't unexpected.

"We were preparing for it," he said. "Sears is iconic in name and had been around a long time. It will be missed ... but we look at an anchor closing as an opportunity."

In this instance, it's another opportunity for Gateway.

In August, Younkers, another anchor tenant, closed its doors.

"Both of them create different opportunities for the property," Becwar said, without wanting to elaborate.

The Sears closing should provide Starwood Retail Partners, which owns Gateway, the chance to purchase the high-profile space in the Lincoln mall facing O Street.

Sears owns the building, which was built in 1971 and is worth a little more than $5.4 million, according to the Lancaster County Assessor's Office. Sears also owns the building that houses Red Lobster at 6540 O St., which is valued at a little more than $2 million, as well as vacant land nearby that's valued at about $180,000.

"We would entertain the opportunity to have the parcel back, seeing as it's owned by someone else," Becwar said.

Sears started as a mail-order catalog in the 1880s, and Sears, Roebuck and Co. grew into one of the country’s most iconic retailers.

But the century-old department store is teetering on the brink of liquidation, the Associated Press reported. It set a deadline of Friday for bids for its remaining stores to avert closing down completely.

Sears closed one of its Omaha locations in September and announced in November that its store in Grand Island was among 142 locations to close as part of the bankruptcy.

Friday's announcement included plans to close the Sears store at Crossroads Mall in Omaha, and the state's last Kmart location, in Alliance.

Sears said it would begin liquidation sales at stores marked for closure within the next two weeks.

CNBC reported that Sears has announced plans to close more than 260 of its 700 stores nationwide since filing for bankruptcy in October.

Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert submitted a bid in an effort to buy the retailer and keep it alive, people familiar with the situation told CNBC late Friday.

Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments, put forward his tentative proposal for Sears earlier this month with his formal submission due Friday.

A bid could help divert liquidation, but may not necessarily. Sears’ advisers had until Friday to decide whether ESL is a “qualified bidder.” Only then could ESL take part in an auction against liquidation bids Jan. 14. The advisers will weigh the value of Lampert’s bid against offers to liquidate the company.

The terms or structure of Lampert’s bid could not immediately be determined, CNBC reported. If it is similar to the $4.6 billion proposal Lampert outlined earlier this month, it is likely to face pushback from the company’s unsecured creditors. As part of the initial bid, which regulators required Lampert to make public, financing would in part stem from $1.8 billion in debt that Lampert would forgive through a so-called “credit bid.”

Unsecured creditors said earlier this month they will object to a credit bid. Those creditors believe there may be claims against Sears for transactions under Lampert’s leadership. Those deals include Sears’ spinoff of Lands’ End and transactions with Seritage Growth Properties, a real estate investment trust Lampert created through select Sears’ properties.

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Night news editor

I am night news editor of the Lincoln Journal Star.

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