Store chain wants 'qualified' person to invest in, own store
Sears won't open a store in Bellevue anytime soon, according to Bellevue Chamber of Commerce executive director Don Tedhams.
Sears representatives recently told Tedhams they haven't found any qualified investors willing to participate in the company's dealership program.
"It's kind of a dead duck, I think," Tedhams said Tuesday afternoon.
Unlike company-owned, major-market Sears stores like the one in Sandusky, the Sears dealership program is owned by select individuals who are approved by the company.
Sears market developers visited Bellevue in August and September hoping to find at least one qualified Bellevue citizen willing to invest in opening a Sears dealership in Bellevue's downtown.
Market developer Charles Todd hosted a public meeting Sept. 11 to show Bellevue-area residents what it would take to open a Sears dealership and the potential benefits.
Several people attended and asked questions, but none apparently were interested or qualified enough to receive a contract, Tedhams said.
"They say they haven't got anybody signed up yet for a contract, and that's where we stand," he said. "We don't know whether (Sears) is going to come or not."
Todd hoped to have a Sears dealership open in Bellevue before the end of the year.
Tedhams said failing to bring the company into the city's relatively bare downtown is a disappointment.
"We could've been good here with something like this," he said. "But those things don't always happen."
Tedhams said Bellevue doesn't have any other major companies looking to invest in the city's downtown.
"I don't have anything for the downtown area," he said. "We're looking at the downtown revitalization project and hoping to get our buildings fixed up to go after some businesses."
The city was recently awarded a revitalization grant from the state's office of Housing and Community Partnerships that will match 50 percent of the amount property owners invest in downtown buildings up to a limit of $20,000.
Sears representatives did not return calls for comment Tuesday.