Old Sears store to
welcome new tenant

Joann, the sewing and crafts retailer, is moving its Kennewick store to Columbia Center mall, where it is taking over a portion of the space vacated by Sears in 2019.

The new store is set to open in April, depending on construction being completed on time, said Joan Davis, Kennewick store manager, who confirmed the move.

Davis said the new location, less than a mile from the current one, will provide much-needed space for Joann, a popular destination for crafters and quilters.

She referred further questions to a spokesperson at the company’s Hudson, Ohio headquarters, who could not immediately be reached.

Joann, which trades under the symbol “JOAN,” has 848 locations in 49 states and reported $2.4 billion in net sales for its 2022 fiscal year.

Construction documents filed with the city of Kennewick show a portion of the former Sears space is being demolished for the future store. The demolition work affects 23,000 square feet and entails demolishing interior finishes, including drywall, ceiling tile, floor coverings and column covers.

The work is valued at $125,000.

Drawings attached to the demolition permit indicate Joann will have entrances into the mall as well as the parking lot. The project leaves an L-shaped section of the old store unused.

Demolition work has begun at the south-facing parking lot entrance, near Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Simon Property Group, which owns the mall, is the developer. Fox Design Group is the designer and CDI Contractors is performing the demolition work.

Sears left a 160,000-square-foot hole when it closed its Columbia Center store in 2019 after its parent company filed for bankruptcy.

The space remained empty, the vacancy obscured from mall visitors by a temporary wall that features a fashion poster and marketing information about leasing mall space.

The move puts Joann at the center of a shift in how traffic moves around the mall, and by extension, the Kennewick-Richland border zone.

Its future home faces Center Parkway, traditionally the mall’s back side. That is changing. In September, after 22 years of planning, the city of Richland began work to punch the road across a set of railroad tracks to connect the mall area in Kennewick to Tapteal Drive in Richland. (See related story.)

The new connection holds the promise of improving visibility and traffic for retailers with a presence “behind” the mall and along Gage Boulevard.

The move also creates a fresh opportunity for a newcomer to take over Joann’s current building, 721 N. Columbia Center Blvd. at West Gage Boulevard. Its 16,000-square-foot store occupies a 1.5-acre site at one of the more prominent retail locations in Kennewick.

There was no evidence it had been listed for lease in early October. A space in Columbia Plaza, a neighboring strip mall, was being offered at $14 per square foot per year on LoopNet.

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