REAL ESTATE

Auction scheduled for more Toys ‘R’ Us locations

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Toys “R” Us, which officially closed the doors to its U.S. operations at the end of June, has put leases on its stores in 29 states up for auction.

The auction will feature 123 properties, including Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us locations, as well as side-by-side or combined stores featuring both nameplates. There are 112 owned and 11 ground-leased properties available.

The stores range in size from 20,000 sq. ft. to 65,000 sq. ft. There are 10 locations in California, 18 in Ohio, and multiple stores across Illinois, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Bids, which will be accepted on Aug. 13 and Aug. 14, are being handled by A&G Realty Partners. The company has already sold more than 130 Toys “R” Us sites in prior auctions.

Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy in September, struggling under a heavy debt load and several years of lackluster sales due to increased competition from online competitors and discounters. Despite efforts to restructure its business, on March 15, Toys “R” Us informed a U.S. bankruptcy court that that it would close its U.S. stores.

Following a liquidation sale, the toy retailer finally closed its doors on Friday, June 29.

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REAL ESTATE

Mall of America to debut Star Wars virtual reality experience

BY Jennifer Setteducato

Visitors to the largest shopping and entertainment complex in North America will soon be able to join the rebellion and fight the Dark Side.

Immersive entertainment company the VOID, in collaboration with Lucasfilm and ILMxLAB, is opening “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire” – a location-based virtual reality experience – at Mall of America.

“The VOID brings a new level of immersive experience and storytelling to Mall of America through its state-of-the-art technology,” said VP of real estate and leasing Heather Brechbill-Swilley at Mall of America. “We’re excited to offer guests the chance to be the hero of their own adventure in a variety of beloved universes through the VOID’s unique attraction model.”

By combining state-of-the-art VR technology, physical stages and multi-sensory effects, including touch and smell, the Star Wars universe comes to life as visitors walk freely with friends and family through interactive sets – along with gear – to create an immersive experience by layering virtual worlds over physical spaces.

Under the orders of the rebellion, teams of four guests must work together to infiltrate an Imperial base disguised as stormtroopers where they’ll navigate through to steal critical intelligence with help from familiar Star Wars characters along the way. Guests engage, communicate and connect as a group to accomplish their overall mission for a fun, social experience.

This will be the VOID’s first Midwest location. The company currently has locations in Anaheim, Calif., Glendale, California, Las Vegas, Orlando, Florida, New York City, Dubai, U.A.E., and Toronto, Ontario.

Mall of America has more than 520 retail stores and restaurants; Nickelodeon Universe, the nation’s largest indoor theme park; SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium; FlyOver America; Crayola Experience; Hard Rock Café; The Escape Game; CMX Cinemas and more.

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Top 10 Retail Center Experiences: No. 8 Butler Plaza
REAL ESTATE

Top 10 Retail Center Experiences: No. 8 Butler Plaza

BY Al Urbanski

In a search for innovators in experiential retail, Chain Store Age asked readers to nominate retail centers worthy of being named among the Top 10 Retail Center Experiences in the nation. The editors’ picks continue with No. 8 Butler Plaza:


Butler Plaza

In 1939, the new experience that Plant City strawberry farmer Clark Butler brought to Gainesville, Fla., was the fresh produce that he sold on a corner stand.

“My dad’s store had curbside service so people never had to leave their car—we’ve been practicing the art of service and experience since day one,” said his daughter Deborah Butler, who now runs this retail mega-complex that constantly adjusts to the needs of its customer base.

It’s hard to name a need Butler does not fill. Encompassing 67 acres and three neighborhoods (including its own traffic light), Butler Plaza hosts two Publix supermarkets, a Walmart, a Target, a Sam’s Club, a Whole Foods, and a Lowe’s. There’s also a Regal Cinema and 35 dining options among the 2 million sq. ft. of GLA — and luxury retail and residences are coming soon to the new Butler Town Center.

Gainesville’s changed from Clark Butler’s day. It’s home to the University of Florida, a large healthcare complex, and a flourishing biotech industry.

“Here we have this pocket of population growth in North Central Florida, and we intend to meet all their needs here,” Butler marketing director Mary Reichardt said.


This is the eight post in a series profiling the 10 selections from CSA‘s 2018 Top 10 Retail Center Experiences. Stay tuned for daily profiles of the remaining two centers from now until Aug. 3. Until then, catch up on what you missed:

No. 1 Westfield Century City 

No. 2 River Oaks District

No. 3 Crocker Park

No. 4 Plano Market Street

No. 5 Irvine Spectrum Center

No. 6 Streets of St. Charles

No. 7 Santana Row

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