Press

September 03 , 2012

Retailers pounce on the best Borders locations

Retailers pounce on the best Borders locations

 By MARIA HALKIAS MARIA HALKIAS 
May 25th, 2012
 
Former Borders locations Borders Books & Music always did a good job of picking retail real estate. It crunched formulas about college graduates and other demographics to find out where the avid readers lived. Apparently all those metrics are good for other retailers, too, including upscale grocers such as Whole Foods Market and Central Market and specialty retailers such as Container Store and Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio. In the year since Borders started its going-out-of-business sales, most of its best store locations have gained new tenants. Its two-level stores have been tougher to lease, but those are beginning to go, too, as landlords start to carve up the spaces. “Borders had always done a good job of finding those strong demographic, mature trade areas, and all those things are important to other retailers,” Retail Connection co-founder and president Alan Shor said. “Some Borders had a second level, and that creates a problem.” The prime Houston locations have been slower to lease because most of those were two-level, Shor said. Because of its location in Uptown Dallas, the vacant Borders in West Village, a two-story location, got a lot of tire-kicking from specialty grocers, including Trader Joe’s, which is opening its first Texas stores in June. Max’s Wine Dive rented 4,200 square feet of space in the building at McKinney and Lemmon avenues. The Houston-based restaurant took about half of Borders’ ground-floor space. Neal Sleeper, president of Cityplace, said he’s talking with a second restaurant and other potential tenants about leasing the rest of the space. The Watters Creek shopping center in Allen housed a Borders prototype store that was one of the chain’s last efforts to find a concept to save it from online and e-book competition. “The former Borders space is being marketed to both single tenants and multiple tenants, and we hope to make an announcement soon,” Watters Creek senior general manager Cornell Holmes said. Royal battle The biggest local battle for a Borders space was at Preston Road and Royal Lane in Dallas. Trader Joe’s hoped to lease the space, but Central Market snatched it. There’s not a shortage of interest in the former Borders spaces, “but you can’t just put anybody in there,” Weitzman Group spokesman Ian Pierce said. “It needs to be a type of use that’s complementary to the overall project.” “Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio and the Container Store easily fit into a center where Borders was an ideal tenant,” he said. Container Store pounced on two Tarrant County locations. The Coppell-based organization-products company opened a store in Arlington Highlands in March and plans to open another in the Chapel Hill Shopping Center in Fort Worth next year. That center includes Fort Worth’s Central Market grocery store. Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio and Off Broadway Shoes, which has recently expanded into Texas, share the former Borders in Plano. In all, five of the North Texas Borders locations are vacant; six have been leased. Other tenants Here are a few other incarnations happening elsewhere: In Austin, Half Price Books leased one Borders space. And TreeHouse, a new concept that bills itself as a sustainable home improvement retailer, opened in the Westgate Shopping Center. A store on the campus of the University of Chicago was leased by a local apparel and shoe store. Walgreen is taking over half of one in a Chicago suburb. North Carolina-based upscale grocer Fresh Market, which had been eyeing Texas as part of its westward expansion, is opening in a Borders space in New Orleans’ Garden District and one in Tulsa, Okla. Whole Foods is opening in one that is only three miles from the University of Notre Dame campus. It is Whole Foods’ first store in northwest Indiana. No-frills grocer Aldi recently leased a former Borders space in Minneapolis. Follow Maria Halkias on Twitter at @MariaHalkias