Fencing has been around the Sears building for weeks, and last week heavy equipment arrived on site and began tearing down the 42-year-old section of the Fort Henry Mall.
The owners of the mall, Hull Property Group of Augusta, Georgia, plan to demolish the entire Sears location in an effort to “right-size” the mall and attract new retailers, grocers and restaurants. The demolition is expected to wrap up before the upcoming holiday season.
Sears closed its Kingsport location last year. A Halloween store temporarily opened there. Since then, the space has remained empty.
In addition to the demolition, the corner of the property — at Fort Henry Drive and Memorial Boulevard — has been excavated and the company plans to create new signage for the mall at this location.
While the demolition of the old Sears building is taking place outside the mall, there are going to be two new places to eat on the inside: Sweet Spoon (selling frozen yogurt, ice cream and milkshakes) and Charley’s Philly Steaks. Both will be located near Auntie Anne’s.
The new Charley’s opened for business last week. Sweet Spoon is currently under construction and is expected to open next month.
Charley’s was previously in the mall, opening its first-floor location in July 2003. The franchise closed on Jan. 31, 2017.
“With these new food tenants, we will be adding tile on the lower level in front of their stores to create a small food court that will provide a space for patrons to sit and eat,” said Coles Doyle, spokesperson for HPG.
Meanwhile, Zales, a jewelry store that had been in the mall for decades, has closed. Its final day was Saturday.
ABOUT THE OWNERS
Hull Property Group purchased the Fort Henry Mall in 2016 for $5 million and soon after announced plans to revitalize and renovate the 40-year-old property into more of a “fashion-type mall” catering to apparel tenants.
Renovations to date have included new restrooms and ceilings, new carpet throughout the common areas and improvements to interior lighting. Additional upgrades have included new decorative accents and colorful community murals and historical photographs over vacant spaces. On the exterior, HPG has upgraded the entrances with new signage.