For the first time since May, the property that used to house the University of Florida Bookstore in Midtown has a tenant.
The 1614 W. University Ave. block is now home to a holiday boutique named the Simply Halloween Store.
The retailer will call the 17,000-plus-square-foot area its home until the first week of November, said Michael Brooks, the district manager for Simply Unforgettable Party Shop, which has stores in Butler Plaza and the Oaks Mall.
Brooks said the company looks for space to rent out every year before Halloween and the results vary.
“It’s kind of a crapshoot, depending on your location,” Brooks said. “Sometimes you get a good location, sometimes you don’t. …It can go really well, and it could go not so good sometimes.”
However, this year Brooks was able to lock up one of Gainesville’s most prized plots on the market. When looking for a temporary store, he always checks out University Avenue to see if he can set up shop near UF’s campus, and he was pleased when he found out that the former UF Bookstore location was available.
“We got lucky that it was open so we jumped on it as soon as we could,” Brooks said.
He said that the Simply Halloween Store should have its grand opening toward the end of this week.
“Probably Friday we will have everything nice and creeped out and looking like a true Halloween store,” Brooks said.
As of now, the state of 1614 W. University Ave. after they leave is up in the air, according to Michael S. Ryals, a commercial real estate broker for Bosshardt Reality Services.
Ryals said there are three floors available for rent, with the top floor being a small, enclosed area with a large outside area. He is trying to get the second and third floors off the market first because they are harder to lease than the ground floor.
“In a perfect world,” Ryals said. “If we are able to do this, and we are able to successfully find the right tenant, we would love to find some sort of food- or beverage-type tenant that would take the second and third floors.”
Ryals also said that the tenants on those floors could use the space for offices.
Once the top two floors are leased out, he will increase his focus on getting a tenant to rent the more attractive ground floor.
“The ground floor is what we call the low hanging fruit,” Ryals said. “It’s an easy one to find a tenant for.”
He said that the first floor could be a host of almost anything one could imagine being found across from a college campus, including walk-in retail, restaurants, art goods or smoothie stores.
Charlie Hamilton, the owner of CBS Real Estate, which runs the property, said that the building is receiving a lot of attention from investors, but there is nothing concrete at the moment.
“We are in negotiations with several different tenants for the building,” Hamilton said. “There will be more news forthcoming.”