MANTENO — Embattled Kmart Corp. has announced it will close its 1.5-million-square-foot distribution center in Manteno, eliminating 130 jobs.

An employee told the Daily Journal that the announcement was made to employees this morning. Company officials on hand for the announcement said the final day for operations will be March 27.

Once a distribution mecca with Sears and Kmart building massive complexes, the announcement leaves the village in northern Kankakee County with a large hole to fill.

Kmart is the owner of the distribution center.

A letter was distributed to employees, one of which provided the Daily Journal with a copy.

“Please be advised that due to a change in business circumstances, Transform KM LLC will permanently cease its entire operations at its facility located at 333 South Spruce Street, Manteno, IL 60950.”

Layoffs are expected to begin “on or about March 16,” the letter noted. An employee said hourly employees have experienced a sharp decline in work hours during the past two weeks.

“We hope to accomplish this closing with the least possible disruption to the lives of our employees and the community,” the letter concluded.

The Spruce Street complex, on the west side of Manteno, opened in 1993 with great fanfare with just over 900,000 square feet of warehouse and distribution space.

The then-34-acre center fed Kmart stores with inventory across the Midwest and employed hundreds of workers.

With a strong retail name and backed by a healthy economy, business boomed for Kmart, which announced in 2000 it would add some 580,000 square feet and 300 jobs to its Manteno center. The addition was completed in 2003.

The Manteno Kmart site is currently on 160 acres, according to county documents.

But, as the Kankakee County region is well aware, poor business decisions by Kmart, the massive growth of Walmart and the birth of online retail, has left the company gasping.

The Kankakee Kmart store along East Court Street at the Interstate 57 interchange closed in 1991, and the massive Super Kmart in Bradley along Illinois Route 50 closed in May 2017.

Meijer purchased the Kmart site and demolished the store. Meijer opened its new store in May 2018.

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