Should City Force Sears to Sell?

Jan 8, 2013 | Economy, Government & Policy

How do you feel about the idea of government forcing a private property owner to sell its property so it can be acquired by another private concern? In effect, that is the question before the community as the City of Fort Collins considers using the power of eminent domain to force Sears to sell its existing building and land at Foothills Mall so it can be redeveloped by the new owner.

As you know, under the ownership of General Growth Properties, the Foothills Mall declined as the community’s most significant retail property. For much of the past decade, the state of the mall has been a concern of Fort Collins residents and a worry to city government which is dependent upon sales tax revenue.

Thankfully, the Mall was purchased in 2012 by Alberta Development, which plans to redevelop the site as a major regional shopping mall. City officials have committed to help Alberta proceed as quickly as possible through the redevelopment process with the objective of the ‘new’ mall being open for business by the holiday shopping season of 2014.

The fly in the ointment is Sears, which owns its building, the land it sits on and the surrounding parking. The new mall owners have said they don’t want to include Sears in the redevelopment; Sears has said not so fast. An impasse of sorts has developed as these two private companies dicker over price and inclusion.

Enter the City Council which will consider a measure next week to use eminent domain to force the sale of the property. If you’re interested in weighing in on the issue, you can contact your Council Members here.