Epic Games announces new HQ at Cary Towne Center site

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Epic Games announced Sunday that it has reached an agreement to purchase Cary Towne Center and plans to turn the mall into its headquarters by 2024.

Records filed with Wake County on Dec. 31 indicate the sale price was $95 million. Turnbridge Equities and Denali Partners purchased the 87-acre mall property in February 2019 for $31.5 million.

Epic plans to start developing the new headquarters later this year, according to the company’s release. In the meantime, Epic will keep its headquarters near the intersection of Crossroads Boulevard and Jones Franklin Road.

In a prepared statement, Jason Davis, the managing director of Turnbridge Equities, said, “After years of shifting development plans for the Center, we are thrilled the space will be utilized to its full potential and turned into something the Town and community of Cary can be proud of.”

Cary Towne Center struggles

Cary Towne Center was built in 1979 and last redeveloped in 1992, The News & Observer reported. Many of the mall’s largest stores have closed in recent years, including Sears and JCPenney.

Turnbridge previously sought and was granted a mixed-use rezoning for the property. In October 2020, the company announced plans for a project dubbed “Carolina Yards” on the mall property that would have seen the demolition of the mall.

Carolina Yards was expected to feature 1,800 residential units, three hotels, seven office buildings around six stories and 360,000 square feet of retail, The News & Observer reported. Both the Belk department store and Dave & Buster’s would have been renovated.

Previous plans for the mall property included a 380,000-foot IKEA that would have replaced the vacant Sears and Macy’s stores. The N&O reported that the IKEA had been a key part of then-owner CBL Properties’ efforts to turn the mall into a mixed-use center.

After announcing the project, IKEA shifted strategies away from big box outlets in suburbs and toward showrooms in metropolitan areas with a focus on its online retail.

In 2015, Topgolf had also proposed opening a facility at the Cary Towne Center site, a plan that did not come to fruition after residents expressed concerns about noise and lighting.

Epic plans

Epic was founded in 1991 and built its reputation on games like “Gears of War” and “Shadow Complex.” In 2017, it released “Fortnite,” a battle royale-type game that quickly became one of the most popular in the world, attracting hundreds of millions of players.

The success of “Fortnite” and the company’s Unreal Game Engine helped the company raise $1.78 billion from investors last year, The News & Observer reported. At the time, Epic was valued at $17.3 billion, a figure that the N&O reported made it the most valuable venture-backed company in the state.

In August, Tim Sweeney, Epic’s CEO, said the new funds would be used to develop 3D technology and the company’s digital Epic Games Store.

A week after raising that huge sum from investors, though, Epic started a high-profile legal battle with Apple. Epic has argued in court that Apple is abusing its monopoly power over the distribution of apps to iPhone users. Its chief complaint is that Apple forces app developers to pay a 30{066dbc63777e5ed549f406789d72fdeebd77a32711d57f7b38ff2b35c4ba2a42} fee on all payments made within apps. Epic would like to use its own payment systems, which bypass that fee.

Epic is also arguing that iPhone users should be able to download apps directly from developers, rather than go through the App Store.

In the meantime, Fortnite has been kicked off the App Store, and iPhone users have been unable to update to the latest version of the game.

Epic has hundreds of employees at its current headquarters. Last year, the company announced plans to build a 450,000- to 550,000-foot expansion that would allow it to add an estimated 1,750 to 2,000 employees.

Sunday, a spokeswoman confirmed that planned expansion would not move forward, with the company instead shifting its focus to the Cary Towne Centre location.

“The plan is to stay at our current location at Crossroads Blvd in the interim, with the goal of moving to our new campus in 2024,” Elka Looks, the spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

Sunday evening, Looks said that it is still too early to determine how many employees Epic will house at the new headquarters.

Stephen Porterfield of Capital Associates represented Epic in the purchase of the site.

Due to the recent rezoning, Epic will be able to start developing the Cary Towne Center site this year, according to the release. The company plans to build office buildings and recreational spaces on the site, but further specifics were not provided.

Epic’s release also said the company plans to work with the Town of Cary to see if the public could use some of the property.

In a prepared statement, Harold Weinbrecht, the town’s mayor, said, “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.”

Staff writer Zachery Eanes contributed to this report.

Profile Image of Adam Wagner

Adam Wagner is a Report for America member covering North Carolina’s recovery from Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, as well as efforts to prepare the state for future storms. He previously worked at the Wilmington StarNews, where he covered multiple beats, including the environment.

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