Forever 21 is still not open in Kennewick. This may be why

Back in January, Columbia Center announced the trendy clothing store Forever 21 would open at the Kennewick mall this year.

Nine months later, Los Angeles-based Forever 21 hasn’t even started to build its store in its 12,000-square-foot spot near Victoria’s Secret.

And the clothing retailer is increasingly dogged by reports it is about to file for bankruptcy and plans to shutter stores as part of a reorganization plan.

Barbara Johnson, manager of Columbia Center, confirmed there is no set opening date for the new Kennewick outlet.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and other major media reported a bankruptcy is in the works for the company.

The Wall Street Journal said Forever 21 could file for bankruptcy protection as early as last Sunday. Forever 21 denied it and Sunday passed without a filing.

But the bad news kept spilling.

Bloomberg reported Forever 21 would close 100 or more stores, as part of a Chapter 11 filing. And Yahoo! Finance openly speculated Forever 21 could disappear as digital shopping and “ginormous discount stores” erode its business.

There were no bankruptcy listings for Forever 21 in the federal court database by Wednesday afternoon.

While the company could not be reached to comment on the status of its Kennewick plans, it did release a statement Wednesday that appeared to confirm it is engaged in restructuring.

“(W)e are working hard to make some changes to how our organization is structured to strengthen Forever 21 for the future. As such, our intention is to continue to operate the vast majority of US stores, as well as a smaller amount of international stores,” it said.

The statement refers customers to a store list for details.

The list identifies 10 current Washington stores: Bellevue, Lynnwood, Tukwila, Tulalip, Seattle, Union Gap, Tacoma, Silverdale, Spokane Valley and Vancouver.