A Colorado Springs building that for years was a destination to buy toys now will become a place to store them — along with furniture, personal belongings, business equipment and the like.
The former Toys R Us southwest of Academy Boulevard and Galley Road, which has been mostly vacant since the New Jersey retailer closed its stores in 2018, has been purchased by In Self Storage, a Denver company that plans to convert the building into a self-storage facility.
In Self Storage paid $1.5 million for the Toys R Us building, according to a sales document recorded last week with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. The roughly 47,000-square-foot structure was built in 1990, county land records show.
The purchase showcases a changing of the guard of sorts — the popularity of self-storage facilities for homeowners and businesses that need room for their items and a decline in the fortunes of brick-and-mortar retailers like Toys R Us who have lost out to online competitors.
Ryan Oliver, an In Self Storage co-owner, said the company hopes to open the storage facility by next summer. The facility will be enclosed and climate controlled. Based on the commercial area that surrounds the site, In Self Storage expects 30% to 50% of its units to be occupied by business users, he said.
In Self Storage is a smaller company that operates 23 facilities in Colorado, Arizona, California, Oregon, Texas and Washington, Oliver said.
Its makeover of Toys R Us will be the first time the company has converted an existing building for storage use, instead of constructing one from the ground up, he said. The building has been empty since Toys R Us closed, though it has been used as a seasonal Halloween store.
The company’s purchase could be the start of a development spurt near the Academy and Galley corner, said Patrick Kerscher, a broker with the Springs office of CBRE, a national real estate firm. Kerscher and CBRE represented Dunton Commercial of Colorado in its sale of the Toys R Us building to In Self Storage.
A shuttered medical building southeast of Toys R Us is slated to be torn down and replaced with a convenience store, Kerscher said.
Iowa-based Kum & Go had proposed to build one of its stores at the site. That project, however, has been scrapped and a second convenience store chain now plans to build on the site, Kerscher said.
He declined to identify the chain, but said it has agreed with property owner Dunton Commercial to lease the ground underneath the former medical building. The convenience store company will demolish the medical building, possibly by year’s end, and construct one of its outlets that could open in late 2021, Kerscher said.
At the same time, a quick-serve restaurant is in final talks to lease the vacant corner of Academy and Galley, Kerscher said. He declined to identify the restaurant, but said it has a presence in town. The restaurant might open by the end of next year, he said.
The area near The Citadel mall, which includes the Toys R Us building and the properties near Academy and Galley, is an older retail corridor identified several years ago by city officials as needing an injection of new commercial life.
But, Kerscher said, “the traffic counts and the population density in that trade area are still very strong and desirable to retailers that want to be in that trade area.”