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Originally published October 5, 2011 at 6:24 PM | Page modified October 6, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Barnes & Noble to close its U-Village store

After 16 years, the largest retail tenant at University Village in Seattle appears headed for the door because it could not come to terms on a new lease.

Seattle Times business reporter

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After 16 years, the largest retail tenant at University Village in Seattle appears headed for the door.

Barnes & Noble plans to close its store at U-Village because it could not come to terms on a new lease, said Terry Foster, the store's community relations manager.

"We're not happy about the way things turned out," Foster said Wednesday. "We were in lease negotiations, and they went the wrong way."

Foster referred additional questions to Barnes & Noble's New York headquarters, leaving unanswered the exact timing of the store's closure and whether another nearby location is planned. Corporate officials did not return phone calls seeking comment late Wednesday.

Susie Plummer, general manager at U-Village, would not confirm the closure, nor would she discuss possible replacements.

Barnes & Noble, which has a dozen other locations in the Seattle area, occupies 46,000 square feet of space over two floors, making it the shopping center's largest retail tenant. (Technically, QFC falls outside the center's bounds.)

While it's expected to gain customers from the recent collapse of Borders, the company has lost money in three of the last four quarters, and sales at its stores open more than a year declined 1.6 percent for the three months ended July 30.

U-Village, which benefits from being close to some of Seattle's most affluent neighborhoods, is fully occupied, Plummer said, so the Barnes & Noble space most likely will not sit empty for very long.

Local real-estate broker Brynn Estelle Telkamp, of Real Retail in Seattle, said she heard that U-Village is considering breaking up the space into several storefronts to attract at least one major new tenant and to enable one or two current tenants to expand.

She recently negotiated a lease at U-Village on behalf of The Local Vine, a wine bar that soon will open near a forthcoming Microsoft store.

"Not only is the center 100 percent full, but there's probably a couple of tenants lined up for every space that could be coming open," she said. "It's where retailers want to be."

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com

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