COLONIE – Fencing is up to demarcate the construction zone for Floor & Decor, the specialty retailer “coming soon” to Colonie Center, as a sign on the barriers proclaims.
The Atlanta-based company, with more than 190 stores in 36 states, plans to take some 55,000 square feet at the mall next to Whole Foods, eating up another big chunk of what used to be the first floor of Sears, a long-time tenant that left in 2017.
The former two-story Sears, its onetime auto center outparcel, and a sea of surface parking — encompassing 20 acres in all — is owned separately from the bulk of Colonie Center by Seritage Growth Properties, which has been working nationwide to maximize its return on real estate once occupied by Sears and Kmart.
Floor & Decor, which carries hard-surface flooring, is still wending its way through the town of Colonie planning process, winning “concept” acceptance last week for its plans at the mall. Although planning board members haven’t fully signed off on the project, no significant roadblocks appear in the way.
The company has stores on Long Island and is building its first one upstate near Buffalo. Material provided to local planners puts the construction timeline at about five months.
Meanwhile, Sierra, an outdoors apparel and gear store owned by TJX Cos., parent of the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls chains, is shown in an updated site plan on Seritage’s website as taking 19,000 square feet of first-floor Sears space, on the other side of Whole Foods from Floor & Decor.
Colonie planning officials say they have seen no application from TJX or Sierra. Known as Sierra Trading Post before TJX’s acquisition, Sierra would be new to the area, too, although a TJX marketing specialist indicated by email that “Sierra has not announced a new store for Albany at this time.”
Seritage has been busy since the fall selling off former Sears and Kmart sites, with an eye toward reducing a $1.6 billion loan due soon to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. It announced success in February in cutting that debt in half, thus earning a two-year extension on repayment.
Like all of Seritage’s holdings, the property in Colonie could be sold if an interested buyer were found. The redeveloped auto center has one vacant storefront, but Sears’ former mall anchor space has been tougher to fill. Floor & Decor is the first sure bet in more than five years.
Since 2020, Seritage has winnowed its 158 wholly owned properties to 92. The Colonie site is among just a few remaining in New York.
Occupancy there is listed in a filing with regulators at just over 25%, but that was before Floor & Decor’s commitment.
The second floor of the former Sears store — more than 94,000 square feet — remains empty, though.
A Seritage representative said the company would have no comment on prospects for the second-floor space or a first-floor tenancy by Sierra.
Marlene Kennedy is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in her column are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach her at [email protected]
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