Future of Epic Games Marks End for Cary Towne Center

Current tenants of Cary Towne Center will soon make way for a new Epic Games headquarters, marking an end to the shopping center later this month.

The Cary-based video game developer, best known for its hit game Fortnite, announced Sunday that it had purchased the 87-acre property from Turnbridge Equities for $95 million. Epic Games plans to build a new campus on the site and relocate from its current home on Crossroads Boulevard by 2024.

While the sale of the property changes the future for the aging mall, it doesn’t change the eviction date for its remaining tenants, said Leah Campbell, co-founder of Vibe, a coworking community and event space.

“We’re still getting evicted,” said Campbell, who has rented space at Cary Towne Center since 2019. “Everyone’s out on their ears Jan. 31, which really stinks because we were actually doing quite well in this location.”

With an end for the struggling shopping center drawing near, Campbell described being part of what has been a slow death for Cary Towne Center. After losing most of its anchor stores over the last few years, the financial strain of COVID shutdowns forced many of the remaining businesses out of the building.

Campbell’s own company, which she said had been thriving before the pandemic, did not receive any federal assistance and will take a pause after leaving Cary Towne Center. Campbell is uncertain about the future of her business, whether she will relocate to another spot in Cary or try something new.

Nanette Mattox (left) and Leah Campbell founded Vibe, a coworking space, in 2019.

The future of Cary Towne Center has been in flux for several years.

In 2018, furniture store IKEA pulled out of a plan to build its first Triangle store at the location. In February 2019, Turnbridge Equities and Denali Partners bought the property in a distressed sale, for $31.5 million, planning to revitalize the site into a new shopping experience.

The developer had secured rezoning for the property and was set to demolish the building in February 2021, replacing it with Carolina Yards, a large mixed-use facility that was to include 1,800 apartments, three hotels, seven office buildings and 360,000 square feet of retail space.

The huge scale of the prospective development and its many tenants raised concerns, said Campbell.

“I would actually rather see something like Epic here, because I think (of) the traffic congestion that was going to occur if the other development had gone through,” Campbell said. “I think it makes really good financial sense that this happened due to the uncertainty of COVID.”

In the long term, the investment by Epic Games is expected to stimulate the local economy, with the potential to bring more jobs to Cary.

In a statement, Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht praised the move as a continued investment by Epic Games in the community. The company, which was recently valued at $17 billion and has more than 50 offices worldwide, was founded by CEO Tim Sweeney in 1991 and has been headquartered in Cary for more than 20 years.

“We’re extremely proud that Epic has chosen to call Cary home for their new global headquarters, and we greatly appreciate the company’s recognition of Cary’s existing assets as well as the unlimited potential of the area for their growing business,” Weinbrecht said. “We look forward to continuing to work closely and collaboratively with the Epic team as they conceptualize their new campus, and we’re honored to partner with them on this exciting new development.”

Epic Games is in early development of its new campus, but said in a statement it will be working with the Town of Cary and “exploring ways some of the property might be used by the community.”

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