FORT WORTH — Barnes & Noble plans to close two Fort Worth bookstores, in Sundance Square and at University Park Village, by year’s end, a company executive said Friday.David Deason, Barnes & Noble’s vice president of development, said the store leases are up at both locations in January. In the case of University Park Village, Deason said Barnes & Noble wanted to stay but said it couldn’t agree to the higher rent sought by the landlord.“We have made tremendous effort to secure an extension to our lease at University Park Village,” Deason said. “However the owners of the property have communicated that they are committed to breaking the store up into smaller spaces for other retailers that will pay rents in excess of what we can afford. We had hoped that we could find a way to keep the store open, but there just was not interest from the property owner in this case.”University Park Village was bought in January by Glimcher Realty Trust in Ohio.Deason said it no longer made economic sense to stay in Sundance Square, where it had been paying lower rents the past couple of years and was on a year-to-year lease.“The owners of Sundance Square have been fantastic partners throughout the 17 years we have been operating at this location,” Deason said. “However, the sales generated at the store are not at a level that will support keeping the store open. So few cities that have urban bookstores ever work. Frankly, it was just time.”He described the Sundance Square store as “moderate.”Jessi Fausett, marketing director for Glimcher, said the real estate company has had a good relationship with Barnes & Noble and that she knew the store would continue at University Park through the holiday season. She said the bookseller’s lease expires early next year, but she had no knowledge beyond the current lease.Johnny Campbell, Sundance Square’s president and CEO, said, too, they had a great partnership with Barnes & Noble.“Their industry has changed considerably in the past few years and we can appreciate the change they must make in this business climate,” he said. “For Sundance Square, this is a great opportunity to re-merchandise this corner as we finish the Sundance Square Plaza and open it on Nov. 1.”Deason said employees at both stores will be given the opportunity to move to other locations. The bookseller has other stores in southwest Fort Worth, Arlington and Southlake.Bookstore chains have struggled in recent years amid competition from Amazon.com and other websites and the growth of e-readers and tablets.Barnes & Noble last renewed its lease at University Park Village in November 2010 after threatening to close. The company reached an impasse with the former owner of University Park Village during those lease negotiations and the store was slated to close. But the two sides were able to reach an agreement, in part at the urging of neighborhood residents who staged a letter-writing campaign. University Park Village is an upscale shopping center located on University Drive south of Interstate 30. Barnes & Noble opened in 1995, the first tenant in an extension at the shopping center, which first opened in 1986.Barnes & Noble opened to great fanfare in Sundance Square in November 1996. The store, designed by Washington architect David Schwarz, who designed several Sundance Square buildings including the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall across the street, is two stories and features a 20-foot-high bucking bronco in faux bronze.The store spreads over a block along Commerce Street with a facade that appears to be two buildings. Deason said Sundance Square over the years went above and beyond to keep them in the space.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST