Barnes & Noble bookstore opens at UT GatewayWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Barnes & Noble held a grand opening July 11 for its new bookstore at the University of Toledo’s Gateway Project at Dorr Street and Secor Road.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at noon followed by special appearances, events and promotions to celebrate the opening of the first tenant in the new commercial development.
“The opening of the new Barnes & Noble is a great way to kick off Gateway phase one and showcase the institution’s commitment to creating a student-centered environment,” said Matt Schroeder, vice president for real estate and business development for the University of Toledo Foundation.
Schroeder said they began talking with students several years ago about concepts for a gateway on the southwest corner of the UT campus. That talk became a reality with the Gateway Project.
“We wanted to plant a flag in the ground to show our commitment to reinvestment in the community with the Gateway development,” Schroeder said.
In 2004, the UT Foundation created a subsidiary, the UT Foundation Real Estate Corp., to handle all real estate transactions and investment of property for the university, according to Schroeder. He joined the UT Foundation following the merger of the university and former Medical College of Ohio.
“The foundation’s sole mission is to utilize investment dollars to generate a return for the university and improve the overall experience for students to help with recruitment and retention. Students look at the overall experience at the university,” Schroeder said.
Students may not recognize the former UT Bookstore in its new home under the Barnes & Noble banner. However, Barnes & Noble has operated the university bookstore for more than 20 years, according to its general manager, Colleen Strayer, a UT graduate.
“We wanted people to feel like they’re into a Barnes & Noble store. We call it an academic superstore,” Strayer said.
Customers will recognize the typical bookstore displays with lots of additional features, including a full-service cafe selling Starbucks products. A convenience area will offer drinks, snacks, health and beauty aids for sale.
The snack area includes plenty of seating and WiFi connections for students to plug-in their computers, said Strayer.
An expanded general reading area will provide customers with a comfortable, quiet place to sit and read. In addition to textbooks, the store will stock best-sellers, bargain books and gifts usually found in a Barnes & Noble bookstore.
Strayer pointed out the new children’s reading area with an extensive title list and selection of games. Story time will be held every Thursday at 11 a.m. with live performances and readings by UT students in the café on a regular basis.
Strayer said the bookstore employs from 50 to 60 year-round employees with 99 percent of the staff being UT students. The workforce doubles during rush times at the beginning and end of each semester, she said.
The grand opening activities featured book signings by two UT authors. Tom Barden, dean of the UT Honors College, signed his book, “Steinbeck in Vietnam” and Rocky the Rocket signed copies of the book about UT’s mascot, “Here’s Rocky!”
A musical quartet, composed of a UT instructor and three students, played at the grand opening. Coupons and samples were handed out to customers who registered to win prizes including a NOOK Simple Touch, Starbucks gift cards, UT clothing and accessories.
The bookstore and cafe are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
The Gateway Project development includes 50,000 square feet of commercial space. Barnes & Noble occupies 18,300 square feet on two floors, leaving an additional 22,000 square feet of first floor retail space.
“Barnes & Noble has been the anchor tenant and catalyst for additional retail business coming into Gateway,” Schroeder said.
Other tenants at Gateway include a Great Clips salon and Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches scheduled to open in late July. Yogurt U and a Wireless Zone for Verizon are expected to open in early August with a new Rice Boulevard sushi shop later that month.
Gradkowski’s, a sports bar and restaurant owned by former Rocket quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, is expected to open in time for the first home football game against Bowling Green Sept. 15, said Schroeder.
In addition to those businesses, students will have the opportunity to experience living in The Lofts at Gateway on the upper floors of the development. Forty-eight one- and two-bedroom units with a total of 112 beds are available to UT students from sophomore through graduate level.
Each student has their own bedroom and lease ranging from $599 to $629 per month. Each unit features a modern kitchen with appliances, living room with large-screen TV, bathrooms and laundry facilities.
“The students love these lofts,” said Schroeder, who reported that they are currently at 77 percent occupancy and expect to have 100 percent occupancy by the start of the first semester.
Schroeder reported that almost all of the contractors working on the project are from Northwest Ohio. The Collaborative Inc. was the architect for the project and designed all aspects of it. Rudolph Libbe Inc. is serving as the construction manager and masonry contactor.
Other local suppliers include D&K Excavating, Gardner Concrete, Strescore (precast), Tech Dynamics (structural steel), Carter Lumber, OCP (exterior metal studs, drywall), Commercial Glazing (glass and aluminum), Nordman Roofing, Schindler Elevator, Spieker Co. (general trades), Lakeside Interiors, American Flooring, Kent Companies, Great Lakes Restoration, The Appliance Center, Wettle Canvas (awnings), Accel Fire Protection, Merit Plumbing, M&M Heating, McClurg Environmental (irrigation and landscaping), and Technical Edge for internet technology.