Barnes & Noble To Vacate 27,000 SF At West Palm’s CityPlace

Mar 25, 2013 No Comments by

Sometime in the next few months, there will come a day when browsers of books and lovers of literature no longer will be able to linger at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers store at CityPlace in West Palm Beach.

A CityPlace official last week confirmed the bookstore will close and be replaced by an L.A. Fitness gym.

The move will mark the end of an era at the shopping, dining and entertainment destination, which launched in 2000 with Barnes & Noble as one of its key anchors.

But during the past decade, the rise of the Internet for book sales, combined with the recent popularity of e-books, has forced bookstores such as Barnes & Noble to shutter retail stores. Rival Borders went out of business.

CityPlace now is working to fill the center with retailers that offer products that cannot easily be purchased online. A recent example: The fall opening of H&M, a hip Swedish fashion retailer that has weathered Internet shopping by offering clothes in its stores that cycle in and out quickly.

Unfortunately, when it comes to books, “the Internet ate that business alive,” said R. Webber Hudson, executive vice president of Related Urban, the mixed-use division of Related Companies responsible for leasing, management and marketing at CityPlace.

Hudson said he could not give an exact date for when the two-story, 27,000-square-foot Barnes & Noble store along Okeechobee Boulevard would close. He did say, however, that he expects the gym will be open by early 2014.

Some observers think the gym will be an asset to CityPlace. They say it will be an amenity not only for CityPlace residents but also for professionals working in the luxury CityPlace Tower office building next door.

Other observers, however, believe L.A. Fitness is a poor choice because gyms require a lot of parking, and generally, retail stores don’t like being in the same center as an outfit that will hog parking spots.

On a more nuanced level, the Barnes & Noble shutdown will remove a gathering spot for friends, an after-date hangout for lovers and a place where people settle to study, learn and reflect.

Hudson said Barnes & Noble’s departure won’t mean the end of cozy places to linger. “CityPlace is a gathering space, a town center. We’ve tried to bend over backwards” to make it so for visitors, Hudson said.

In recent months, CityPlace has worked to shore up the center’s periphery.

The decision to bring bowling alley Revolutions Bowling Bar & Grille to CityPlace’s north end is an example. In addition to 20 lanes, six of which are VIP lanes, Revolutions will have an entertainment center, which will feature a sports “amphitheater” booth with a 180-degree projection screen. There also will be a game room with 35 games.

The bowling alley, still under construction, was supposed to open last fall, but a redesign pushed the date to earlier this year. Hudson said he now believes Revolutions will open in the summertime.

Further helping boost the north end will be the Tequila Cowboy Bar & Grill, opening by the summer.

In addition, CityPlace has added high-profile restaurant tenants, such as Brio Tuscan Grille near the project’s center, and the popular Mellow Mushroom pizza, located along Okeechobee Boulevard on the project’s south end.

The goal is to bring in more stores that are “hip and relevant to a new generation of shoppers who want something different than the staples offered on the Internet,” Hudson said. “There’s been a shift here.”

Youth seems to be a key. H&M, and existing CityPlace retailers such as Anthropologie and Sephora, have thrived because of their attraction to young adult consumers, Hudson said. So look for more youth-oriented fashion retailers coming to CityPlace during the next several months.

 

Source:  Palm Beach Post

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