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Sears Finding New Uses For Closed Stores

Hoffman Estates, Ill. – Sears Holdings has formed a new business unit to convert shuttered Kmart and Sears stores into data centers, disaster recovery space and cell tower bases.

According to a report by Data Center Knowledge, the new division, dubbed Ubiquity Critical Environments, will retrofit its first Sears store this summer as a multi-tenant data center on Chicago’s South Side.

Ubiquity COO Sean Farney told the newsletter that Sears’ stand-alone stores offer high-tech tenants high power and fiber capacity, while its mall-based real estate can serve as “disaster recovery facilities” for neighboring stores that have closed or downsized.

In addition, the chains’ unfettered rooftops and proximity to large population centers make them ideal for cell tower placement.

“The big idea is that you have a technology platform laid atop a retail footprint,” Farney explained. “The goal is not to sell off properties. It’s to reposition the assets of this iconic brand.

“This is a way to create a new revenue stream,” he said.

The company has been steadily selling off assets since chairman/CEO and majority shareholder Eddie Lampert merged Sears and Kmart nearly nine years ago. More recently it has renewed efforts to sub-lease space to traditional retailers both inside and outside its stores, and is considering selling its lucrative extended warranty business to increase liquidity.