A Minnesota-based furniture retailer recently bought the vacant Younkers attached to Oakwood Mall, but its plans for the large store are not yet known.
HOM Furniture paid $2 million in late January to buy the store at 4850 Golf Road from the bankrupt parent company of Younkers, according to records filed in the Eau Claire County Register of Deeds office.
HOM’s CEO Rod Johansen said that those with a common ownership with HOM Furniture bought the Eau Claire Younkers store as an investment, but couldn’t yet disclose future plans for it.
“At this time we don’t have any information that we can share on how they are planning to use the property or if it is just an investment property,” Johansen said in an email to the Leader-Telegram.
He noted the ownership group owns many commercial properties that they lease to outside entities.
Local land records show the store’s new owner is KKMBA Eau Claire LLC, a company formed in January with its principal offices listed as HOM Furniture’s headquarters in Coon Rapids, Minn.
Johansen signed papers approving the purchase of the building, which was sold off under the signature of Michael Culhane, CFO and executive vice president of Bon-Ton Stores, parent company of Younkers.
HOM has an Eau Claire store about a mile away from Oakwood Mall at 2921 Mall Drive. The furniture company leases that store from Texas-based real estate investment firm Spirit Realty Capital, which has owned the building since April 2005, according to an inventory of the major retail landlord’s properties in a recent SEC filing.
The current HOM store is 93,620 square feet while the former Younkers has 105,255 square feet of floor space, according to online Eau Claire city property records.
HOM’s owners also bought another defunct Younkers this winter in Wisconsin. In December, the company announced it had acquired a defunct Younkers in Wausau’s mall to expand HOM’s reach in the state.
That store — HOM Furniture’s 17th location — will open in the Wausau Center Mall during the second quarter of this year, according to an announcement on the company’s website.
HOM had previously proposed to Wausau’s Redevelopment Authority to acquire a defunct Sears building in the same mall in October 2016, based on information on that city’s website.
In its overture to Wausau, HOM noted at the time that it’s a well-capitalized company and owns 2.5 million square feet of the 3 million square feet that its stores occupy, meaning it doesn’t lease much property.
In addition to its main HOM Furniture brand, the retailer also owns Gabberts Fine Furniture and Design Studio as well as discount furniture outlets called DOCK 86.
At Oakwood Mall, there is another anchor store out of the five attached to the regional shopping center that is also currently empty.
Sears closed its Eau Claire location last year and the future for that large store is not yet known.
Betsy Maher, the mall’s general manager, said in an email that there are currently no updates she can share with the public on a new tenant for the Sears location or other storefronts in the mall.