REI will remain in West Hartford and plans to relocate its Blue Back Square store to the former Sears location in Corbin’s Corner.
By Ronni Newton
REI officially announced its plans to move its West Hartford store from Blue Back Square to the Corbin’s Corner space that will be redeveloped after Sears closes in early 2017.
In a statement issued Thursday, Kurt Feilke, REI retail director for the Northeast district, said, “We know the West Hartford community is passionate about getting outside, which is why it was our first store in the state nearly a decade ago. Since then, we’ve seen the outdoor community grow and felt we could make it easier for our members to get geared up for their adventures at this new location. We look forward to 2018 when everyone—our employees, members and nonprofit partners—can come experience this new hub for the outdoor community.”
In its press release, REI stated “an improved store experience and easier access to quality gear and expert advice” as the reason for the three-mile move. The proximity to the highway as well as free parking for members and employees was also noted.
The Corbin’s Corner store, which REI hopes to open in the spring of 2018, will be 25,000 square feet – roughly the same size as the current store – and will stock gear and apparel for outdoor activities. It will also include a bike and ski shop that will provide maintenance and repairs, the company said, and will continue to offer activities through the “REI Outdoor School.”
REI is the nation’s largest co-op, and the company said that there are currently 15,000 members in the West Hartford area and 32,000 in the region. “Relocating the West Hartford store is part of the co-op’s plan to continue to serve the growing outdoor community in Connecticut,” according to the company. REI has two other Connecticut stores, one in Norwalk which has been open since 2010 and a Milford store that opened in October.
Sears announced last week that is will close its West Hartford store, which has anchored Corbin’s Corner since 1961. The decision to close was made by Seritage Growth Partners, which recently purchased the West Hartford property along with other Sears locations throughout the country.
Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th issued a statement Wednesday confirming its plans to lease approximately 27,000 square feet in Corbin’s Corner, with plans to open in the fall of 2017.
“This location will be Saks Off 5th’s third store in Connecticut and first in the Hartford region,” Jonathan Greller, president of Saks Off 5th and Gilt said in a statement. “We’re excited to join the community and bring the ‘thrill-of-the-hunt’ experience we’re known for to area shoppers.”
According to Seritage’s website, the Sears property totals 159,630 square feet, and the Sears Automobile Center building is 34,760 square feet.
Director of Community Services Mark McGovern said last week that Seritage is actively working to secure tenants for the space. “We are expecting a mix of food retailers and traditional retailers,” McGovern said.
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