J.C. Penney to close Wauwatosa distribution center, lay off 670

Company will sell the building, transfer operations to Kansas and Ohio


J.C. Penney Co. will close its Wauwatosa distribution center and call center at 11800 W Burleigh St. beginning this summer, and lay off a total of 670 employees.

Google satellite image of the JCPenney distribution center in Wauwatosa.

The Plano, Texas-based company will sell the building and transfer its operations to facilities in Lenexa, Kansas, and Columbus, Ohio, according to an email from JCPenney.

“The company’s supply chain network is oversized relative to its national store footprint, and can be optimized by transferring operations,” said company spokesman Carter English.

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In 2017, JCPenney closed about 140 stores.

The Wauwatosa distribution center portion will close on July 1 and the customer care center will close on Sept. 1.

“It’s never easy taking actions that directly impact our valued associates, however, we feel this is a necessary business decision,” English said in a written statement.

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Eligible associates will receive separation benefits, including outplacement support and an on-site career training class.

The city of Wauwatosa has long eyed the distribution center site, given its 73-acre size and location along the western edge of Interstate 41 and frontage to Burleigh Road. The site is on the opposite side of the freeway of the Mayfair Collection development.

The property is assessed by Milwaukee County for $22.8 million

“The current JCPenney furniture store and warehouse stands out as a key redevelopment site with enormous potential,” according to the Wauwatosa Comprehensive Plan for the Burleigh Triangle and Mayfair Road North developed in 2015.

At the time the plan was developed, the city was restricted by JCPenney’s plans for the building.

“The future is largely dependent on the company’s plans for the site, which may involve more profitable, non-industrial uses,” the plan said. “In this case, the site could be targeted for expanded commercial and retail spaces, complementing the Mayfair Collection to the east.”

Paulette Enders, development director for the city of Wauwatosa said the city has not received any communication from JCPenney.

“The city was fortunate to have JCPenney as a major employer in Wauwatosa, but we planned for the future in the event the company made a corporate decision to close, relocate or downsize,” Enders said.

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