HomeLawrence LedgerStaples at Lawrence Shopping Center to become family entertainment center

Staples at Lawrence Shopping Center to become family entertainment center

Urban Air, a family entertainment center, has signed a lease to take over the Staples office supply store space at the Lawrence Shopping Center, according to shopping center owner JJ Operating Inc.

The Staples office supply store is vacating its 36,666-square-foot space Jan. 6, 2023. The store, which posted a note on the door announcing its closing, has been one of the shopping center’s anchor stores since 1998.

A spokesman for Staples confirmed the store is closing and encouraged “all of our customers to continue shopping with us at a nearby location.” The nearest Staples store is located at the Windsor Green shopping center at 3495 Route 1 in West Windsor Township.

A reason for its closing was not offered.

Urban Air is expected to open in summer 2023, an Urban Air spokesman said. It is a franchise family entertainment and indoor adventure park that aims to provide active, fun play for children and young adults.

Urban Air was originally developed as a trampoline park, but the concept has evolved into an indoor adventure park that features climbing walls, laser tag, dodgeball, bumper cars, and a warrior obstacle course, the spokesman said.

The Lawrence Shopping Center site will have a cafe and party rooms for birthdays and other celebrations, the spokesman said.

Urban Air is joining a string of businesses that have opened – or are nearing their opening date – at the Lawrence Shopping Center since JJ Operating Inc. acquired the 393,430-square-foot shopping center in 2016.

New Jersey Camera, Cafe du Pain and Plato’s Closet, which sells second-hand clothing for teens and young adults, were among the first to open in the revitalized shopping center in the past few years.

The Dollar Tree discount store moved across the street from its former location on Brunswick Pike in August 2020. It is next door to the Auto Zone automotive parts store that also opened for business around the same time.

Princeton e-Bikes, which sells electric bicycles, also opened at the shopping center. It donates its profits to the Boys & Girls Club of Mercer County, which has a site on Spruce Street in Lawrence Township.

Lidl, the Germany-based no-frills grocery store chain, opened in June 2021 in a portion of the space formerly occupied by the ACME Markets grocery store.

Five Below, which sells everything from room decorations, clothing, toys and games at prices between $1 and $5, opened in July 2021.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, which sells close-out merchandise and excess inventory from major manufacturers, also opened in late 2021.

Several restaurants and other businesses have moved into a series of stand-alone buildings across the parking lot from the main strip shopping center building.

The LA Fitness gym is planned for the former Huffman Koos furniture store site, which was demolished in January 2020 to make way for the gym. Building permits have been taken out, but there is no definitive plan for when construction will begin.

JJ Operating Inc. purchased the Lawrence Shopping Center for $16.5 million in December 2016.

The prior owner, wbcmt 2007-c33 Brunswick Pike LLC, acquired the shopping center at a Mercer County sheriff’s sale in 2013. Lawrence Center LLC, which owned the shopping center, defaulted on a $39.5 million loan, which led to the sheriff’s sale to pay off the debt.

The Lawrence Shopping Center, which opened in 1960, was the first major shopping center in Lawrence Township. It consisted of 150,000 square feet and 13 stores.

The Lawrence Shopping Center underwent expansions and renovations several times between 1966 and 1997.

Dunham’s department store was one of the original stores at the Lawrence Shopping Center, along with W.T. Grant, which was a 5- and 10-cent store, and the Rexall drug store, according to records on file at the Lawrence Township Tax Assessor’s Office.

The Pantry Pride grocery store and Lawrence Liquors also were among the original stores at the Lawrence Shopping Center, according to the Tax Assessor’s Office’s records.

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