United Commercial Realty
Barnes & Noble Leaves University Park Village10.21.2010- Elizabeth Bassett, Fort Worth Business Press
Property managers at University Park Village shopping center say they are in negotiations with two retailers to fill space vacated by the Barnes & Noble, which confirmed last week it would close its doors to customers Dec. 31.
Executives with United Commercial Realty, the Dallas-based company that manages the University Park retail space, said negotiations are under way to bring in another retailer and to keep the Starbucks that sits next to the book store.
Barnes & Noble, which has a presence in the Texas Christian University bookstore as well as a location on South Hulen Street near the Hulen Mall, was facing an expiring lease and had renewal options, but the company and UCR were not able to come to a negotiated agreement, said Scott Weaver, president of UCR Asset Services, the management company side of UCR.
Michael Nagy, managing partner of UCR Urban, another division of UCR which handles high-end shopping centers like the University Park Village and Galleria North in Dallas, said UCR works with Barnes & Noble regarding other locations across the country and he was disappointed to see the company go.
“We bent over backward and tried to keep them,” he said.
The Barnes & Noble occupies about 25,500 square feet in the shopping center, including 1,600 subleased to Starbucks, which is connected to the book store with internal doors. Weaver said the management of that Starbucks, as a subleaser, was not aware of the lease expiration, but that UCR is working with them to create an individual lease.
“We’re going to try to keep Starbucks,” said Nagy. “Starbucks wants to stay and that’s going to happen.”
While Nagy and Weaver could not disclose specific names or types of businesses, they said there are two companies already interested in the space that Barnes & Noble will leave available after it vacates by the end of January 2011. Nagy added that the potential tenants have worked in conjunction with Starbucks in the past as well at other locations, but that neither of the potential new tenants have an existing Tarrant location.
“Let us do what we can do and let’s see if we can’t replace them with a retailer that’s at least as dynamic as Barnes was,” he said.
A new tenant in the Barnes & Noble space could open in the spring or summer of 2011.
University Park Village will see several openings before that, though; Anthropologie, a women’s clothing and décor retailer, is slated to open in the middle of November and a Brighton store, which will include handbags and other goods, will open soon thereafter.
Brookstone, the gift company, will open a temporary store at University Park Village within several weeks, and the retailer will remain in the center until after the holiday season. Lululemon, a yoga-inspired clothing store that has a temporary location off West Seventh Street, will move permanently into the space Brookstone will temporarily occupy in spring 2011.
Weaver said UCR also is in negotiations with J. Crew, the apparel retailer, trying to nail down a possible opening date between May and September 2011, he said.
It’s understandable that some would lament losing a bookstore that had a role as a community gathering place, Weaver said, but UCR hopes to find a suitable replacement tenant that would give customers something unique.
“This property, we do not anticipate an extended vacancy given what it is, where it is and who our customers are,” he said. “ . . . We’re not overly concerned about the ability to fill this box and fill it rather quickly.”
Nagy said the deal between this individual Barnes & Noble and UCR was, at the end, a business decision for both companies.
“I take a very strong personal interest in the property and I think that over the years, whenever a tenant has left UPV for one reason or another, the general public thinks it’s a mean, nasty, faceless landlord throwing the tenant out on their butts,” he said.