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Jax Daily Record Friday, Oct. 30, 202002:36 PM EST

Rooms To Go buys former Toys R Us at The Markets at Town Center

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CEO Jeffrey Seaman says all jobs will be retained when it converts the Avenues or Regency store into an outlet and closes the other.

Rooms To Go bought the former Toys R Us building at The Markets at Town Center on Oct. 30 and intends to renovate it as its new concept.

In addition to its current furniture line, Rooms To Go is adding an expanded children’s section and a 9,000-square-foot area for outdoor patio furniture.

At 74,000 square feet with a 55,000-square-foot showroom, the 4875 Town Center Parkway location will be the company’s largest new concept store.

“We love Jacksonville. It’s a very good market for Rooms To Go. We were just waiting for the right location to do it,” said CEO Jeffrey Seaman on Oct. 30.

He hopes to start construction in late winter and complete it about six months later.

A rendering of the Jacksonville Rooms To Go store at The Markets at Town Center.

Seaman said Jacksonville shoppers will be happy with the selection.

“I think people are entertaining at home more because of COVID and just being careful,” he said.

The structure was available for lease, but Seaman said Rooms To Go prefers to own it considering the investment in the project.

He declined to provide the purchase price or the investment estimate. The deed was not recorded with the Duval County Clerk of Courts as of 2:30 p.m. Oct. 30.

Seffner-based Rooms To Go bought the property from Hines Global REIT, which owns The Markets at Town Center.

Rooms To Go operates three Northeast Florida stores in Orange Park, Regency and The Avenues area.

The Markets at Town Center location is nearly a midpoint between the Regency and Avenues stores. 

Seaman said one of those two will be converted into an outlet and the other will close. He said all jobs will be retained.

In addition to the relocated jobs, the new store will add about 30, totaling 50-60 employees.

Property records show that Rooms To Go affiliates own the 30,000-square-foot Regency area store built in 1998, and the 41,000-square-foot Avenues area store built in 1995.

The decision about which store to convert and which to close will be made in the summer. The company also will decide whether to put the closed store on the market for sale or lease.

Another entity owns the 30,000-square-foot Orange Park store, built in 1994.

The Markets at Town Center space is more than the combined space of the two closest Rooms To Go stores. 

The city is reviewing plans and a permit application for the $3.7 million renovation of the former Toys R Us space for Rooms To Go.

The space has been marketed as 74,018 square feet. The renovation cost also could change as the project proceeds. 

Seaman said Rooms To Go has not chosen a contractor for the renovations.

The application describes the project as “renovation of retail space previously utilized as Toys R Us to be converted to Rooms to Go retail furniture sales.”

It says there also will be minor exterior facade upgrades with complete interior tenant improvement and a minor civil and landscape scope.

A similar store is in development in Daytona.

News-journalonline.com reported in September 2019 that Rooms To Go would build a prototype store in Daytona by 2021 that comprises separate storefronts for its Rooms To Go, Rooms To Go Kids and Rooms To Go Patio stores. 

That store will be 55,400 square feet, the news service reported.

Rooms to Go announced then it will build its prototype in five locations – two stores in Orlando and one each in Daytona Beach, Tampa and Atlanta. 

The Markets at Town Center Toys R Us and Babies R Us store closed in 2018. It is next to the Sprouts Farmers Market that moved into a former Best Buy that relocated.

The Shopping Center Group partner and Senior Vice President Stephanie McCullough and Vice President Kelly Pulignano represented Hines Global REIT in the sale.

McCullough said David Gabbai at Colliers International in Orlando represented Rooms To Go.

“It’s at the entrance of the Town Center area,” McCullough said Oct. 30 of the location’s advantage.

McCullough said her group has seen the furniture sector thrive through the pandemic. “It seems to be a pandemic-proof concept,” she said.

Seaman said business is doing “extremely well now.”

Stores closed at the start of the pandemic. Seaman said that after shelter-in-place orders were lifted in May, “business took off. People spent a lot of time at home and wanted to redecorate.”

The Town Center area is a growth market for retail and residential development. Baer’s Furniture recently opened along Gate Parkway, south of the Town Center, and RH, previously known as Restoration Hardware, is building a store at St. Johns Town Center. 

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