- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2002

THE WASHINGTON TIMES
J.C. Penney is closing its anchor store at Laurel Mall, cutting 157 jobs.
"It's a performance issue," said Quinton Crenshaw, spokesman for J.C. Penney. "The store was not meeting the company's objective for profitability."
The store had lost business to the J.C. Penney store at the renovated Mall in Columbia, which is 12 to 14 miles from the Laurel Mall, said Sherrie Little, specialty leasing manager and marketing director at the shopping center.
The Laurel store is scheduled to close around Jan. 25, Mr. Crenshaw said. Some employees may be transferred to other local J.C. Penney stores, and the company is offering severance packages for some of its employees.
The 139,900-square-foot Laurel department store, which opened with the shopping center in 1979, leaves behind just two anchors: Hecht's and Burlington Coat Factory, which opened in November 2001 replacing bankrupt Montgomery Ward.
But mall owners and the management company are "actively seeking a replacement" for the soon-to-be-vacant anchor space, Ms. Little said.
"They are looking at this as an opportunity to bring a new anchor to the market [and] to enhance the mix," Ms. Little said. Officials are talking to about a dozen retailers.
Laurel Mall, which has 663,938 square feet of leasable space, has about 120 retailers.
The mall is almost fully leased for the holidays because of seasonal tenants. Typically, the center is about 89 to 90 percent leased, Ms. Little said.


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