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040417-blm-loc-1gordmans

A plastic owl stands guard Monday in a planter box outside Gordmans at The Shoppes at College Hills in Normal. The Normal store is likely the only downstate Illinois Gordmans proposed for closure following the sale of the company to Stage Stores Inc., a Houston-based department store chain.

NORMAL — An anchor at the Shoppes at College Hills likely will close after all.

Gordmans at 306 S. Towanda Ave., Normal, is likely to shut down despite the purchase of its parent company in a bankruptcy proceeding, according to documents filed over the weekend in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Normal's Gordmans is the only downstate Illinois store proposed for closure following the sale of the company to Stage Stores Inc., a Houston-based department store chain. Omaha, Neb.-based Gordmans also operates stores in Champaign, East Peoria, Peoria, Springfield and Fairview Heights.

At the time of the purchase, Stage said it planned to keep about 50 Gordmans locations open and to close a similar number. 

The judge overseeing the bankruptcy case will have the final say on store closings, so the list provided in court documents could change slightly, according to Lee News Service reporting.

No closing date has been announced.

Officials at M&J Wilkow, the Chicago real estate company that owns the Shoppes, could not be reached Monday.

"(M&J Wilkow) said if they do close ... they have lots of options for that space," said Normal City Manager Mark Peterson of Gordmans. "The fairly large space gives them lots of options. Whether these are existing businesses wanting to expand or new businesses, they didn't get into that."

Peterson said incentives for a future user of the building would be considered, as elsewhere in the town, on a case-by-case basis. The town provided a sales tax incentive to the developer of the Shoppes that Peterson said is still active.

"(M&J) Wilkow has never mentioned anything like that with us. They've never suggested that," he said.

Mayor Chris Koos said he heard from Gordmans that the Normal location "does pretty well," which "would give you some hope they would continue."

Gordmans filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month after working to reduce its expenses over the past several months.

Chief Financial Officer James B. Brown said in documents filed in court that the company's sales declined because retail traffic slowed and less than 1 percent of Gordmans sales were made online in the past year.

Gordmans posted losses in five of its last six quarters. And in its most-recent quarter, it reported a 9.4 percent drop in same-store sales last year.

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Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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