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Family entertainment center coming to ex-Sears space in Southern Hills Mall
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Family entertainment center coming to ex-Sears space in Southern Hills Mall

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Sears Closing (copy)

A shopper enters Sears at Southern Hills Mall in Sioux City March 1, 2019, shortly before the store closed permanently. 

SIOUX CITY -- The Southern Hills Mall on Wednesday announced that the former Sears space at the mall will become a Tilt Studio location. 

Tilt Studio will be an "action-packed, 110,000-square-foot family entertainment center," according to a press release from the mall.

The venue, offering mini-bowling, black-light mini golf, bumper cars, laser tag, video games and event rooms, is expected to open in 2022.

Tilt Studio has locations spread across 12 states, including both Tilt Studios and Tilt Amusement Center locations. The nearest location is in Rockford, Illinois. 

News of an upcoming tenant puts to rest, for now, the lengthy uncertainty about the future of the Sears space. The department store closed permanently in 2019, following Sears' bankruptcy and the liquidation of most of its stores and assets. 

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This left the Southern Hills Mall with another vacant anchor store, following the closure of Younkers the year prior. The Younkers space was later partly filled by a discounter originally called "It's $5" that later changed its name to Retail Rebel. 

Later in 2019, the Southern Hills Mall reported that Sears would likely be demolished; the mall had signed a letter of intent with an unnamed "national off-price retailer" and a "national home furnishings retailer." The plan was to knock down the Sears store and to rebuild on the same site. 

But that announcement was followed by a lengthy period of silence from the mall and its owner, Ohio-based Washington Prime Group.

In the meantime, a retailer called "Hot Buys" opened in the Sears space in August. Southern Hills Mall officials declined to talk about the store at the time, referring instead to "exciting plans" for the space that would be announced in the "near future." 

Malls nationwide have been looking at replacing empty retail spots with events-based venues for some years now, particularly as more people shop online and younger people favor experiences and fun over material purchases. 

"It's going to require a lot of investment in the properties," Chris Bogenrief, an authority on Sioux City-area commercial real estate, said in 2019. "But I think what we're seeing around the country is, trying to convert the traditional mall into more of a lifestyle and entertainment center." 

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