MANCHESTER — Shoppers driving by the former Sears store at the Mall of New Hampshire can see through large openings in the walls to an empty space where aisles of Kenmore appliances and Craftsmen tools were found last year.
Work has started on overhauling the space — including about half destined to become a Dick’s Sporting Goods store.
The renovation work will cost more than $6.4 million, according to documents filed with the city. It was unclear whether that covers a portion or all of the estimated cost.
Half of the Sears store, a casualty of the retail giant’s bankruptcy, will transform into Dick’s Sporting Goods before year’s end, according to a mall spokeswoman, reconfirming what the New Hampshire Union Leader previously reported.
A Dave & Buster’s restaurant is slated to open in 2020 in the other half of the space.
Pittsburgh-based Rycon Construction, which has a banner hanging at the Manchester construction site, said its work includes more than 170 projects in 20 states involving Dick’s Sporting Goods and its subsidiary, Field & Stream, according to the firm’s website.
Cleveland-based Onyx Creative, which offers various services including architectural, is listed on a city permit as the project’s applicant.
Under scope of work it listed: “Renovate former Sears space to create multiple tenant spaces and perform landscaping work as approved administratively by Planning staff. Also, fit-up and occupy 46,400 square feet of space for ‘Dick’s Sporting Goods’ as per plans submitted, as per code.”
Calls to Rycon and Onyx weren’t returned Monday.
Tom Farrelly, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield of New England, a commercial real estate firm, said the fact that the Manchester Sears space has new tenants already is a plus.
“I think it’s amazing frankly,” Farrelly said. “I think it speaks to the resilience and depth of the retail market in Manchester.”
Many malls have had to bring in things other than restaurants and shops to fill empty stores. The Steeplegate Mall in Concord, for example, has added a theater with live performances, a charter school and a trampoline park.
“I think the fact the Mall of New Hampshire doesn’t have to pivot toward non-conventional uses to fill space again speaks to the strength of the retail market and the demographics of the area,” Farrelly said.
Two other Sears stores in New Hampshire also closed last year.
Kim Haffner, spokeswoman at the Mall at Fox Run in Newington, said she couldn’t share any plans yet.
“Long-term, you’re not just going to see it sit there,” she said.
A spokeswoman for The Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem didn’t return a phone message.
A new store that sells motorcycle gear and parts opened at the Mall of New Hampshire on June 20 — Cycle Gear — adjacent to the recently opened Xfinity store and BurgerIM, said mall spokeswoman Elyse Phelan.