Wednesday, April 17, 1996, Vol. 110, No. 76

lj 10/5 cates Laser tag arena will give Poplar Plaza 90 percent occupancy By LAURIE JOHNSON The Daily News Poplar Plazas newest tenant, which began construction two weeks ago, has pushed the shopping centers occupancy rate to 90 percent, up from 83 percent in January. Laser Quest offers rounds of laser tag in which participants fire at each other with harmless red laser beams, scoring points by hitting the targets fastened to their opponents clothing. The addition of the laser tag arena, the companys second in Tennessee, will feature a multi-level labyrinth of ramps and catwalks, specialty lighting, swirling fog, space-age music and sound effects. Laser Quest is expected to fill an entertainment void created when the Big Daddys bowling alley burned and subsequently closed last year. "Laser Quest will bring that entertainment dimension to Poplar Plaza, which should provide a tremendous draw for the other tenants," said Steve Brommer, spokesperson for Weston Cos., the leasing firm for the shopping center. The facility is scheduled to open in June. Bryson & Associates is the contractor for the project, which is valued at almost $300,000. The Memphis-based construction company, headed by Jim Bryson, specializes in commercial building and renovation projects, mainly for shopping centers and restaurants. "This is a very high-tech project, and thats what we do," said Steve Norris, an estimator for Bryson. Subcontractors for the project include General Heating and Cooling, Haines Electric, Ken-Rich Cabinets, Benny Krag Plumbing and Skill Master Painting. Project superintendent is Mac McAlister of Bryson & Associates. Construction on the new McAlisters Deli in Poplar Plaza is scheduled to be completed within the next 30 to 60 days, and a new K&B Drug Store will open this summer, said Brommer. In June, the PetCare Superstore will move from its current location in Poplar Plaza to the space formerly occupied by Dillards. The move will increase the pet care suppliers retail space from 6,000 square feet to 17,000 square feet. Brommer said negotiations are currently underway with several potential tenants for the remaining rental space. Newcomers to the plaza over the past year have included Mailboxes, Etc., USA Mobile and Old Navy Clothing Store. Poplar Plazas established tenants include BookStar, the PetCare Superstore, Kroger, Blockbuster Music, Davids Home Fashions, Party City, El Porton, Mama Grazies, Applebees, Sleep Fair, Home Decorating Warehouse and Union Planters National Bank. "The revitalization of Poplar Plaza has been phenomenal," Brommer said. "Were well on our way to hitting our target. "We think Laser Quest is a valuable addition to Poplar Plaza," he said. "Its key that these shopping centers have some kind of entertainment draw." Laser Quest officials say they are enthusiastic about their new Memphis location, as well. "Memphis has an active young market and a very vibrant economy," said Pat Willmot, regional manager for Laser Quest. "We chose Poplar Plaza as our new location because we feel that its on quite a main artery in Memphis," Willmot said. "Its close to the university, and there is a good variety of shops and restaurants nearby, so mothers will be able to drop off their kids while they do other things." Poplar Plaza contains a total of 307,000 square feet of rental space, divided into 41 retail bays. Eight bays with a total of 30,700 square feet are still available for lease, Brommer said. Lease rates range from $8 to $15 per square foot. Poplar Plaza has been owned and operated for the past eight years by Finard & Co., a Burlington, Mass.-based corporation. The company also owns Whitehaven Plaza. Weston Companies has been the leasing agent for the shopping center for the past six years.