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Fortnite Creator Is Buying a Dying Mall to Develop New Headquarters

The company that created the popular videogame “Fortnite” has agreed to purchase a North Carolina mall and plans to redevelop it as a global headquarters, the latest sign that struggling malls are evolving into new kinds of real estate.

Epic Games Inc., the closely held company based in Cary, N.C., said it is planning to convert the 980,000-square-foot Cary Towne Center mall into offices and recreation space for its growth in the long term. Epic plans to open the new campus by 2024, which would represent a sizable upgrade from the company’s 250,000 square foot headquarters.

The acquisition and office-expansion plans show that even as many companies aim to reduce office space and embrace work-from-home policies, others still see a new and larger office location as a big part of the future.

Epic said it is still too early to offer details about the new headquarters. While the firm said it has no plans to build a space for videogame tournaments at the new headquarters, it said it is considering including space for use by the local community.

The company is growing fast, hiring more people and wants to remain in Cary, said

Elka Looks,

communications director at Epic Games. “Much of our work is highly collaborative, and we want to give employees the ability to use an office when it is safe to do so,” she said.

Epic’s acquisition plan also shows how many underperforming malls have become attractive acquisition targets for investors aiming to convert them to other uses, from office space to residential units or warehouses.

In West Los Angeles, Calif., a 600,000-square-foot mall, the Westside Pavilion, is undergoing a makeover into an office campus that will be occupied by Google. New York-based

Urban Edge Properties

this week said it has purchased Sunrise Mall in Massapequa, N.Y., and plans to redevelop it for industrial purposes.

Epic agreed to pay $95 million for the North Carolina property, which was built in 1974. Cary Towne Center once had tenants such as Dillard’s and J.C. Penney, which have closed their stores in recent years.

New York-based Turnbridge Equities and Dallas-based Denali Properties, bought Cary Towne Center in January 2019. The mall was 65% occupied at that time and the developers initially had planned to redevelop the space into a mixed-use complex with residential, office, retail and hotel uses.

Epic’s “Fortnite” is a multiplayer game that has attracted hundreds of millions of people around the world, and it is particularly popular with high-school students. It is one of the most popular esports, and arenas that allow thousands of gaming fans to watch this kind of video content in-person have been a bright spot in commercial real estate. Mall owners, stadium operators and hoteliers have drawn young gamers for live events, which in turn helps to keep their properties relevant.

Write to Esther Fung at [email protected]

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the January 6, 2021, print edition as ‘‘Fortnite’ Creator Plans to Buy Mall for Its New Headquarters.’

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