PIQUA — Department store chain JCPenney recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and while the fate of a local location of the store at the Miami Valley Centre Mall is currently unknown, closings of a number of JCPenney stores are expected.
As part of its reorganization, the 118-year-old company said some of its stores will close in phases throughout the Chapter 11 process and details of the first phase will be disclosed in the coming weeks. According to reports in USA Today, JCPenney expects to close more than a fourth of its stores. USA Today cited a document filed with the Securities and Exchanges Commission on Monday, which disclosed that approximately 29 percent of JCPenney’s 846 stores, or 242 locations, will close.
“The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our families, our loved ones, our communities, and our country,” said Penney’s CEO Jill Soltau in a statement. “As a result, the American retail industry has experienced a profoundly different new reality, requiring JCPenney to make difficult decisions in running our business to protect the safety of our associates and customers and the future of our company.”
JCPenney said that it has $500 million in cash on hand and has received commitments of $900 million in financing to help it operate during the restructuring. It said that it will be looking at different options, including the sale of the company. The restructuring should reduce several billion dollars of its debt and provide more flexibility to navigate the financial fallout from the pandemic, Penney said.
On Tuesday, Regional Manager Veronica Butts of Kohan Retail Investment Group, the new owner of the Miami Valley Centre Mall, said they do not know yet whether the JCPenney at the Miami Valley Centre Mall in Piqua will be one of those stores to close, but she added that JCPenney has done well at that location.
“We have not heard anything,” Butts said. “We’re hoping that they will stay.”
The company’s roots began in 1902 when James Cash Penney started a dry good store in Kemmerer, Wyo. The retailer had focused its stores in downtown areas but expanded into suburban shopping malls as they became more popular starting in the 1960s. With that expansion, Penney added appliances, hair salons, and portrait studios.
JCPenney has been in operation in Piqua since 1922, and the retail store was one of the original anchor stores of the Miami Valley Centre Mall that opened in 1988, having moved from a downtown location. JCPenney is currently one of two anchor stores at the Miami Valley Centre Mall, including Dunham’s Sports. The other two previous anchor stores of the four anchor spots at the mall, Elder-Beerman and Sears, closed in August 2018 and February 2019, respectively. Kohan Retail Investment Group, under the name Miami Valley Mall Realty Holding, LLC, then purchased the mall property in November 2019 for $3,234,000.
The Miami Valley Centre Mall is also navigating its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, opening up earlier this month to customers.
“It’s definitely been challenging,” Butts said. “We have great tenants.”
While the mall was closed during the state’s previous Stay at Home order, the Comfort Inn located at the mall was open during that time and is seeing a slow increase of customers.
“They’re doing much better now,” Butts said.
Kohan Retail Investment Group is also working with two potential tenants to add to the Miami Valley Centre Mall’s food court. Butts said now is a good time for businesses to join the mall as rates are very affordable.
The Miami Valley Centre Mall, located at 987 E. Ash St., Piqua, is currently open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.
The Associated Press and Sam Wildow contributed to this story.