Gordmans appears to be vacating its Aksarben Village headquarters by the end of July, according to court documents filed by the bankrupt retailer.
The Omaha department store chain, which filed for voluntary bankruptcy protection in March, said in filings last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Omaha that it is still occupying the headquarters and another office to assist the transition to Houston-based Stage Stores, which bought about half of the company’s 100 locations during an auction in April.
The rest of the stores are shut after they had going-out-of-business sales that finished up late last month, court documents say. And in July, it looks to be curtains, too, for the headquarters, for which Gordmans received state incentives.
“Because the debtors are still actively occupying and using the headquarters, the going-out-of-business sale at the headquarters has not yet commenced and is expected to occur during the month of July 2017 and conclude on or before July 31, 2017,” lawyers for Gordmans wrote, speaking of selling off the location’s furniture and other assets.
The Aksarben Village headquarters, a $28 million building developed by Omaha’s Waitt Co. and Noddle Cos., employed as many as 350 people in recent years. But it isn’t needed by Stage Stores, which operates about 800 U.S. locations under names such as Peeble’s and Bealls.
Requests for comment left with attorneys for Gordmans and executives with Noddle Cos. were not responded to. The headquarters was occupied by Gordmans in 2014 under a 15-year lease for the top two floors, after the company moved from its previous location near 120th Street and West Center Road.
Jay Noddle of Noddle Cos. said in March that he didn’t think it would take long for Aksarben Village to find a replacement if one of its major tenants left.
Gordmans is listed as having signed a Nebraska Advantage Act agreement in 2012, agreeing to invest $16 million in an Omaha project that would create at least 100 jobs. By agreeing to such long-term leases and to create jobs in the process, the company qualified for state tax incentives under Legislative Bill 312.
The amount of tax credits earned, if any, under such economic development contracts with the state aren’t public information. The Revenue Department, however, has filed court papers saying that if the contact resulted in tax refunds for Gordmans, it expects them to be repaid if the site is vacated.
Gordmans now goes by the name G-Estate Liquidation Stores Inc. as it wraps up affairs after more than 100 years as an Omaha retail fixture. Stage Stores plans to operate the locations it purchased as discount department stores under the Gordmans name. Only one Omaha-area location will live on, in Council Bluffs.
Stage Stores paid about $76 million for the part of Gordmans it bought, which includes the 150-employee Omaha warehouse scheduled to remain open as is.
That purchase price is about equal to just over 10 percent of Gordmans’ annual sales last year of $610 million, or just more than about six weeks’ worth of business.
But sales were steadily falling at the chain, profits were elusive and cash was depleted in 2013 by a $70 million special dividend authorized by a board dominated by out-of-state hedge fund Sun Capital, which had taken a large ownership stake in the publicly traded company.
The main secured lender, California-based Wells Fargo, has been repaid the $66 million or so it was owed, Gordmans said, from the sale proceeds. Negotiations are underway with others owed money, according to court papers, “with aim of filing a plan in the very near term” that will spell out how much the remaining creditors will get. Creditors include suppliers, taxing authorities and landlords, as Gordmans leased all premises.
Shares of Gordmans expired worthless in May after being delisted by Nasdaq. They reached $22 each in 2012, but it was steadily downhill to zero from there.