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J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy after nearly 120 years in business, but a tentative deal with a group of mall owners and lenders may save it. USA TODAY

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Assuming Jones signs off at that point, liquidation sales at the permanently closing locations that have opened their doors following temporary closures would begin immediately, J.C. Penney attorney Joshua Sussberg said.

Facing excessive debt, years of declining sales and the pandemic closures, J.C. Penney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 15.

Bankruptcy cases pile up: Coronavirus wreaks havoc for J.C. Penney, Hertz, others

230 store closings planned: Tuesday Morning retailer files Chapter 11 bankruptcy

The company is hoping to shed debt and split into two entities: an operating business and a real estate investment trust. If that plan doesn't work, the company may agree to sell itself. Although the retailer hopes to stay in business, liquidation of the entire chain remains a possibility.

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Pier 1 will close nearly half of its stores. Macy's will close about a fifth of its locations over three years. J.C. Penney will close six stores. Wochit

To boost its finances in the short term, J.C. Penney last week asked all of its landlords to not charge rent for June, July and August while the company tries to get back on its feet, Sussberg said.

Judge David Jones, who has urged J.C. Penney to move swiftly in a bid to preserve as many jobs as possible, said Thursday that he was "really comforted by the different" efforts the company is making.

J.C. Penney reopens more stores

Currently, about a third of its stores, or 304 locations, have reopened and nearly 500 are expected to reopen by June 3, said Jim DePaul, the company’s executive vice president of stores, in a statement on Thursday.

That includes 150 in 27 states that reopened Thursday after temporary closures due to the pandemic. Five stores also are open only for curbside pickup.

“To do this, we’re operating differently and taking a strategic and consistent approach, keeping associate and customer safety as our top priority,” DePaul said.

Sussberg said the company hopes to have all of its remaining stores fully open by August.

Earlier this week, the chain NathanBomey and @KellyTyko.

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