The former Summit Mall will soon be empty after Sears and the Bon-Ton close. (News file photo)
The former Summit Mall will soon be empty after Sears and the Bon-Ton close. (News file photo)

Sears was a true survivor at the former Summit Mall complex in the Town of Wheatfield.

The store was an original anchor tenant when what was called the Summit Park Mall debuted in 1972. In the decades that followed, Sears endured amid rising vacancies at the Williams Road complex, changes in mall ownership, and revitalization ideas that never panned out.

Now the Sears store is closing. A liquidation sale will start May 18 and the store will close in early August, said Howard Riefs, a Sears spokesman.

The impending loss of Sears and the mall’s only other active store, Bon-Ton, returns attention to a persistent question about the massive former Summit Mall: What now?

A Canadian developer, Zoran Cocov, has owned the mall since 2014. Cynthia Potts, a Cocov official, noted that Sears is not a tenant, since Sears owns its own building and the parcel of land it sits on. The county assessed that property’s value at $1.5 million.

“While we feel this would be a great loss to our community,” Sears has not yet contacted Cocov about the fate of its Wheatfield store, Potts said.

But Potts noted the original contract with mall ownership has a clause giving Cocov the right of first refusal to acquire the property in the event of a closing.

“We would at that time consider all possible options for mall ownership and how it may be included in future development opportunity,” Potts said.

The former Summit complex’s woes are well documented. By the late 1990s, the once-thriving mall was mostly vacant, as tenants and…