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TRC Blog

March 18 , 2011

Sports Authority expanding

Sports Authority expanding

by Candace Carlisle, Staff writer

Friday, March 18, 2011, 5:00am CDT

Sports Authority is swinging at the Dallas-Fort Worth retail real estate market again with a double play in Plano.

The Englewood, Colo.-based sporting goods store has signed more than 77,000 square feet of retail space to relocate its East Plano store and venture into a new market with a West Plano store, said Steve Lieberman, CEO of The Retail Connection.

With the two new stores, Sports Authority will have 15 retail locations in North Texas. Each store creates roughly 20 to 35 jobs.

The expansion play could signal future real estate expansion by other retailers.

“These are the first stores they have opened in three years,” Lieberman said of Sports Authority. “Like everyone else, they suspended (expansion) plans in 2008, but now they’ve come back in the market, and were looking for the right opportunity. That’s a significant move in any business cycle.”

Lieberman declined to say whether Sports Authority plans to continue expanding in North Texas, but said the market was attractive to the sporting goods retailer.

Sports Authority officials declined comment.

The expansion reflects the growing strength of the retail real estate market, which shows some retailers getting stronger, as weaker retailers go by the wayside, Lieberman said.

Other retail real estate professionals agree with that assessment.

With high-end furniture retailer Robb & Stucky declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, the Fort Myers, Fla-based chain is closing its high-profile Plano location at the southeast corner of Legacy Drive and the Dallas North Tollway.

This will leave a prime real estate opportunity for stronger retailers, said Bob Young, managing director of The Weitzman Group.

“Vacancies in a tough economy can hurt, but they have also been a catalyst to help others who want to expand and go to other markets,” Young said. “They create opportunities.”

The Sports Authority’s 34,776-square-foot location in west Plano, at the northwest corner of Park and Preston Roads, will take over a former Linens ’n Things retail space.

The 42,487-square-foot store relocating in east Plano, will move into a former Circuit City at the northeast corner of North Central Expressway and Parker Road, officials said.

Both stores plan to open later this year.

Linens ‘n Things and Circuit City left more than 600,000 square feet of retail space vacant in North Texas in 2008 and 2009.

“There’s really no new construction, but things are somewhat healthy because there’s retail space available on the market,” Young said.

With the closing of seven area Borders Group Inc. stores, some in enviable locations, there’s prime retail real estate to be plucked up, he said.

Without speculative construction in the pipeline, many retailers are looking at sites for expansion in the next two years, said John Zikos, a partner with Venture Commercial.

“If you are a big box retailers, you are out looking a little bit and scouting,” Zikos said, adding that vacancy rates are stabilizing and rent trends, anecdotally, seem to be picking back up.

Based on previous levels of demand, retailers seem to be more cautious and deals are taking more time, he said.

The caution is shared throughout the industry, but there’s a clear signal: North Texas is once again seeing demand for retail space.

“There’s no feeding frenzy and it’s not overwhelming, but we’re seeing demand from every sector, and its much more focused,” Lieberman said. “Those that are growing have based their plans on fundamentals. We’re going to continue to see expansion and positive absorption in this market.”

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