Elder-Beerman store in Beloit to close

By Daily News Staff

BELOIT — The Elder-Beerman store at the Eclipse Center in Beloit is one of nine locations in Wisconsin targeted by parent company Bon-Ton Stores for closure this year.
Bon-Ton announced Wednesday it will close 47 locations in the United States. The Elder-Beerman store is the last retail outlet remaining from when the Eclipse Center was the Beloit Mall.

It is not known when the Beloit Elder-Beerman store will be shut, but a news release from Bon-Ton stated closings will occur over the next 10 to 12 weeks.

“As part of the comprehensive turnaround plan we announced in November, we are taking the next steps in our efforts to move forward with a more productive store footprint,” said Bill Tracy, president and chief executive officer of Bon-Ton Stores. “…We remain focused on executing our key initiatives to drive improved performance in an effort to strengthen our capital structure to support the business going forward.”

“We would like to thank the loyal customers who have shopped at these locations and express deep gratitude to our team of hard-working associates for their commitment to Bon-Ton and to serving our customers.” Tracy said.

City Manager Lori Curtis Luther said the city would monitor the restructuring going forward.

“We are disappointed to learn about Bon-Ton’s decision to close its Elder-Beerman location in Beloit,” Luther said. “We do not yet know what the plans are for the property, but the city looks forward to working with the property owners on future plans for the site.”

The Elder-Beerman building is part of the Eclipse Center, owned and managed by Hendricks Commercial Properties. Rob Gerbitz, HCP’s president and chief executive officer, said the Elder-Beerman situation had been a leasing question for some time because of financial problems with Bon-Ton stores.

“It’s not a Beloit thing. It’s a Bon-Ton thing,” Gerbitz said Wednesday in an interview with the Beloit Daily News. “We’ve known since I’ve been here it (the closing) is a possibility.”

Gerbitz said HCP maintains contacts among major retailers because of the firm’s development operations. The company has proposed building a retailing center in the Highway 75/Willowbrook Road area in South Beloit, but has found prospecting for tenants to be slow.

“It’s all about the retailing environment in the whole country,” he said, adding big chains like Target and Kohl’s are not building any new stores.

As for what will happen with the space at the Eclipse Center once Elder-Beerman closes, Gerbitz said there are no firm plans at this time, but it’s unlikely to be retail again.

“We’ll do something with it, that’s for sure,” he said.

Hendricks Commercial Properties took over ownership of the former Beloit Mall in 2004. Since then the property has been converted for use by several non-retail tenants including the Beloit Public Library, the Rock County Health Department and Community Action. Blackhawk Technical College and University Wisconsin Rock County also have satellite facilities in the Eclipse Center.

Employees at the Beloit store will be offered the opportunity to interview for available positions at other store locations, according to the news release. Other Wisconsin Bon-Ton stores to close include Younkers locations in Appleton, Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Marinette, Milwaukee, Superior and Wausau.