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Officials: Store closings are not a sign of trouble

A handful of businesses close their doors at two area shopping centers, but owners say there is no cause to worry.

By JACKIE RIPLEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 20, 2001


CITRUS PARK -- Stores have been turning over at Citrus Park Town Center and Citrus Park Plaza, but company officials say both centers are in good health.

In recent months:

California-based Bugle Boy Industries Inc., which made a name for itself in the 1980s for its balloon-like parachute pants, filed for protection from creditors in February. Company officials announced plans to close 215 retail stores, including the one at Citrus Park Plaza, which shut its doors in May.

At the 1.1-million-square-foot Citrus Park Town Center, Overland Trading Company, selling unisex clothing, athletic footwear and rugged-look shoes, closed last month. Gap Body is scheduled to open later this year in the store's 1,441-square-foot space.

WEDU Store of Knowledge, a 4,129-square-foot store offering merchandise on more than 50 subjects ranging from history and science to foreign languages and self-improvement, disclosed that it will shut its doors in June.

This End Up, a 2,614-square-foot store specializing in coordinated furniture, accessories and decorative items closed late last year.

A spokesman for Urban Retail Properties Co., which owns Citrus Park Town Center and Citrus Park Plaza, said the centers are far from in trouble; in fact, they are thriving with the recent additions of Olive Garden Restaurant, Ethan Allen and Home Elements.

Urban Retail "had no comment relative to the rumor that the plaza is on the market," said Jim Frankowiak of the PCI public relations firm, responding to speculation that Urban Retail wants to sell the big-box center.

As for the closings, Frankowiak said, "it's happening in other malls in this area as well as nationally where these retail stores had a presence."

Urban Retail is "getting close" to filling the vacant stores with new tenants, he said.

- Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 226-3468.

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