Barnes & Noble to stay in University Park Village

Barnes & Noble Booksellers won't be leaving University Park Village after all.

The retailer and property managers said Wednesday that they reached an agreement that extends the store's lease for several years.

"Both University Park Village and Barnes & Noble recognize the community interest in keeping the store as a part of the great offering of merchants and tenants, and as such have worked diligently to provide the opportunity for the store to remain open," David Deason, vice president of development for Barnes & Noble, said in a statement.

The store said last month that it would be closing Dec. 31 because it could not agree on terms to renew its lease.

That news prompted at least one patron to start a grassroots letter-writing campaign to Barnes & Noble executives and the property owner, Heitman Capital.

Susan Motheral, who lives in the nearby Park Hill neighborhood, asked surrounding neighborhood associations and friends to participate. Motheral said she is pleased that the campaign worked.

"I heard a lot of e-mails were sent," she said, adding: "If we want to keep it here, we have to support the store. It's clearly a community effort."

Mickey Ashmore, president and CEO of United Commercial Realty, which manages the shopping center, said, "We never wanted them to leave, as Barnes & Noble brings more to a property than simply rental income."

University Park Village is on University Drive south of Interstate 30. Barnes & Noble opened in 1995, the first tenant in a 120,000-square-foot expansion at the shopping center.

Fort Worth ties

Local folks who were paying attention to national election returns Tuesday night might have noticed that Florida voters elected a Republican, Rick Scott, as their new governor.

That's the same Rick Scott who founded Columbia Hospital Corp. in Fort Worth in the late 1980s with financier Richard Rainwater.

The pair grew the company on sharp acquisitions and partnerships with physicians, and Scott moved to Nashville after Columbia bought HCA in 1994. Later, he and his wife, Ann, now married 38 years, moved to Naples, Fla.

Scott ran on a campaign of slapping Tallahassee into shape to address a big state budget shortfall.

"We cannot blame Washington, D.C., for all of our economic problems," he said on his website. "Tallahassee is part of the problem."

After it appeared that Scott would take the governor's post, he said, "I can't wait to get to work. Thank you for this great honor. God bless the great state of Florida."

CarMax expansion

CarMax said Wednesday that it's recruiting for more than 1,200 store jobs nationally to cover seasonal needs and previously announced expansion plans. A CarMax spokeswoman said 67 of the jobs are in Dallas-Fort Worth.

"The majority of positions are in sales and service operations [detailers, experienced technicians], with additional positions available in purchase and the business office," CarMax said.

Positions are full and part time, and some are evening shifts. Job-seekers should apply online at Technicians require previous automotive experience, but most positions don't, CarMax said.

Downtown hotel demand

Demand for downtown Fort Worth hotel rooms grew 62 percent in the past three years, the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau reports.

From August 2007 through September 2010, total room night demand increased to 575,000 room nights from 356,000.

The increase translates into more than 250,000 additional visitors to downtown Fort Worth, the organization said, based on information from Smith Travel Research, an independent national research firm.

"These additional quarter of a million visitors stayed in our hotels, dined in our restaurants, visited our attractions, and had a direct impact on Fort Worth's $1.3 billion hospitality industry," David DuBois, president and CEO of the bureau, said in a statement.

Along with that, room revenue increased to $82 million from $56 million.

Broken down, from Oct. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010, definite room night bookings for meetings and conventions totaled more than 278,000, compared with 271,000 during the same period a year ago.

Meetings and conventions are booked into 2019.

The bureau said it had 813,000 hits to its website in fiscal 2010, up from 760,000 hits the year before.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Scott Nishimura, 817-390-7808

Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718