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- 2013 - April - 29th -
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Microsoft store planned at St. Johns Town Center

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Microsoft Corp., which has about 65 full-line and specialty stores in 29 states, Canada and Puerto Rico, intends to open a Microsoft Retail Store in St. Johns Town Center, according to plans filed with the City.

A building-permit application and plans specify a Microsoft Retail Store at St. Johns Town Center. Phase 1 construction will comprise the core and shell modifications in a 4,975-square-foot location at 4791 River City Drive, No. 107.

A St. Johns Town Center official said today there are discussions with Microsoft but no lease has been signed.

The Microsoft location is not far from the Apple store, which is at 4712 River City Drive and is one of the initial tenants at St. Johns Town Center, which opened in March 2005.

The core and shell modifications for Microsoft represent a $400,000 project.

A separate permit application calls for landlord work, valued at $350,000, for utilities and exterior work, at the address.

The project designer on the shell-construction permit is shown as Gensler of Los Angeles and the landlord is Simon Property Group, based in Indianapolis. While no contractor is listed on the application, plans indicate J.T. Magen & Co. of New York, N.Y., as the contractor.

Core shell and modifications include the architectural and structural work. Microsoft's store website shows four Florida stores, comprising locations in Aventura Mall in Miami Beach, Dadeland Mall in Miami, The Florida Mall in Orlando and International Plaza and Bay Street in Tampa. The microsoftstore.com site also shows a store "coming soon" at Dadeland Mall.

Simon has an ownership interest in the Aventura, Dadeland and Florida malls as well as St. Johns Town Center.

Microsoft Corp. opened its first Microsoft Retail Store in 2009 in Scottsdale, Ariz., according to the website. Microsoft is based in Redmond, Wash., near Seattle.

The stores sell computers, software, games, music, tablets and phones. The site lists product selection as "a curated assortment of products" including desktops, laptops, tablets and all-in-one PCs running Windows 8; Xbox 360 consoles and accessories, including Kinect for Xbox 360; Windows Phones; Microsoft Office; and personalization options and accessories.

The site also focuses on the store associates, who "will provide tailored services so customers find the technology that works best for their lives."

Stores include an answer desk; customer training; a workshop area; personal shopping sessions; and business solutions.

Stores feature a community development specialist to work with local organizations "to arrange in-store events and activities that help drive awareness of their causes within the community while offering the opportunity to learn new technology skills."

The site lists events such as Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops earning tech badges; local chamber of commerce meetings; science class field trips; and resume workshops for women re-entering the workforce.

"To celebrate each new Microsoft retail store opening, Microsoft donates more than $1 million in software grants to selected location organizations that will help create opportunities for local youth through technology, training and experiences that empower them to realize their full potential," says the fact sheet.

The Microsoft Store Facebook page says "Microsoft's retail store lets you experience and buy software, devices & hardware, direct from Microsoft, both in retail stores and online. Microsoft's retail store is your source for the hottest new technology and best in personalized service.

"You can test-drive, play with and explore all of our Windows 8 PCs, Windows Phone, Xbox and Kinect. Our interactive environment makes shopping for your technology easy and fun."

ABCNews.go.com reported Feb. 5 that the Microsoft stores look similar to Apple stores, quoting Morningstar investment analyst Norman Young as saying Microsoft "did kind of crib the look and feel" of the Apple stores.

ABCnew.go.com reports that like Apple's stores, "Microsoft's have an open floor plan, minimalist aesthetic, high ceilings and big windows.

"Their eager, friendly, T-shirted salesfolk wear lanyards around their necks. Electronic goodies sit temptingly atop wooden tables — dark wood in this case, not the blonde that Apple favors."

According to the ABC site, a company spokeswoman said Microsoft has 64 stores, including 31 permanent retail locations plus 33 pop-ups.

She said in calendar 2012, the company opened its first stores outside the United States, including in Vancouver and Toronto.

She said Microsoft stores collectively have "welcomed" 22 million customers.

PC Magazine predicts that Microsoft will have a minimum of 300 stores within the decade, according to the ABC site.

The Microsoftstore.com website allows visitors to check locations in their area. Using the St. Johns Town Center ZIP code of 32246, the results show:

"We're certain it's a nice town, but at the moment there are no Microsoft Stores near you. Don't worry, we're opening new stores around the nation and one of them might be in your fine neighborhood."

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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