Hoffman Estates officials were delighted Wednesday with the success of Sears Holdings Chairman Eddie Lampert's bid to save the bankrupt company that's been headquartered in the village for more than a fifth of its 126-year storied history.
But they say only time will tell whether this is a temporary reprieve or a new chapter for the struggling company.
"We were waiting to see what would happen," Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod said. "This is good news for us."
According to reports Wednesday, Lampert, the company's largest shareholder, won a bankruptcy auction with a $5.2 billion bid that for now will keep Sears from being liquidated.
It's still not clear what would have been the fate of the company's 200-acre campus in the 780-acre Prairie Stone Business Park if Sears had fallen into the hands of liquidators this week.
"The reality is there are 20 to 30 different companies Sears has in that building, some that are more profitable than others," McLeod said.
Fears of a significant vacancy on the campus have seemingly passed for now. And there is a limit to how much he village could do in preparation for Sears' potentially shutting down, McLeod said. While officials were able to think about different scenarios, doing anything more would have been premature, he said.
Tricia O'Brien, president of the Hoffman Estates Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said Sears has remained a good corporate citizen of the village even during its struggles. Just last year the company donated new appliances to The Knolls Center for Autism in Hoffman Estates to help students there learn how to do household chores.
"Sears has done so much and they don't always get good positive press," O'Brien said. "Sears has always been a great supporter of our community."
Early in the company's bankruptcy proceedings in the fall, a Sears employee who served as a chamber of commerce board member lost her job. But O'Brien said Sears has assured her it will provide another member now that it knows it will continue to operate.