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Come See The Many Sides Of Sears' Empty Stores

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Sears was once a retail giant with 3,500 outposts across the United States — and it all started in Boyle Heights in 1927.

In recent years, the company has closed more than 90% of its stores, leaving some empty (or mostly empty) architectural gems dotting Southern California. From Santa Monica to the San Fernando Valley, real estate developers are trying to revamp these structures with varying degrees of success.

The former Sears Auto Center in Northridge is going to become a Porto's Bakery. The Santa Monica Sears, which opened in 1947, is being converted into an upscale, multi-use complex with a market hall, beer garden and offices.

But the hulking, windowless Sears on Santa Monica Boulevard in East Hollywood, which closed in 2008, remains empty, a magnet for homeless folks and taggers.

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Hadley Meares explores the history of Sears in Los Angeles and considers what comes next for these striking buildings sitting on valuable real estate.