Bellevue Square J.C. Penney to close in November

J.C. Penney is closing its doors after 55 years at Bellevue Square on Nov. 1, but Kemper Development Company is looking at the retailer's exodus as a great opportunity to remodel.

KDC spokeswoman Jennifer Leavitt confirmed the roughly 200,000-square-foot space to be vacated by JC Penney will be redesigned to accommodate several smaller specialty stores, much like what it did when Frederick and Nelson closed in the early '90s.

"We've had this pent up demand for some spaces that we just have not been able to accommodate," Leavitt said.

J.C. Penney released a statement Thursday regarding the Nov. 1 closure:

As we continue our turnaround, an important part of our work is identifying opportunities that enable JCPenney to maximize long-term growth and profitability. Doing so is essential to meeting our goals for future company growth. While it’s never an easy decision to close stores, especially due to the impact on our valued associates and customers, we feel this is a necessary business decision.

Nationally the retailer has struggled, however, it reported improvements in its second quarter operating loss this year of $70 million, greatly lower than the $395 million loss reported this same time last year.

Kemper Development Company is currently in discussions with prospective new tenants to fill the large space that will be left by J.C. Penney, which is not anticipated to occur until fall or winter 2015.

"We are actually in design phase, because it's an opportunity for us," Leavitt said. "Retail is always changing, it's always modifying. That's actually what keeps it exciting and fresh."

J.C. Penney opened at Bellevue Square in 1959, six years after the city incorporated.


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