Disagreement between Sears, Rocbuck & Co, and a Cambridge real estate firm over the terms of a new least has forced the closing of the 58-year-old Sears department store in Porter Square, a landmark for local residents and the area's largest department store.
The controversy apparently stemmed form disagreement over the future plans for the store in projected re-developments schemes for the Square.
According to a spokesman for Sears, Bob Buzbee the real estate department for the nationwide chain 'could not agree to terms" with the owner of the property. Peter Wasserman & Associates. He declined to elaborate, except to say that 'they did not want to renew out lease."
The multi-million dollar store will close its doors to customers on December 31 and vacate the premises by the end of January, according to General Manager Ed Murphy.
In a prepared statement released last week. Peter Wasserman, co-owner of the real estate firm, said yesterday that two years of negotiations between his firm and Sears failed to produce a new lease
"Redevelopment schemes for the [Porter Square] site, incorporating Sears future requirements, were drawn and presented to Sears at their regional offices. Sears was not interested in any of the redevelopment schemes," he said.
"Sears said they did not want to make the necessary capital investments required, as they felt the Porter Square location was not a growth market," Wasserman added.
Buzbee said that "everything possible" was done to remain in Cambridge, and added, "Sears believes that the Porter Square market has good growth potential."
Buzbee said that the 853 store chain is looking for another site in Cambridge, but that being back in business by next year was a "long shot"
Local residents said they were disappointed to see the store close.
"You hate to see the only department store go,' said Phyllis O'Connor of Arlington. Lugging her grandson through the television department, she added that she was going to miss shopping at the family store, famous for its variety of low-cost merchandise.
"It's a tremendous asset," said David Hughes, Executive Vice President of the Cambridge Chamoer of Commerce "it provides a lot of jobs."
According to Murphy, the nearly as full-time and 220 part-time employees will be transferred to other Sears stores in the area, particularly in Saugus, Dedham, and Burlington.
"It's not just a business closing," said Murphy, who has been with Sears for 25 years and manager of the Mass. Ave, store for 13 "It's an institution, and it's sad. We're not leaving by choice."