Toys R Us’ flagship store in NYC — with 60-foot indoor Ferris wheel and 20 … – Omaha World-Herald

NEW YORK (AP) — For decades, children visiting New York City savored one stop above all: a trip to the kind of toy store that they thought existed only in their imaginations.

Now they will have to keep dreaming.

The huge Toys R Us superstore in Times Square — which wowed shoppers with a 60-foot indoor Ferris wheel, a 20-foot animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex and a life-size Barbie dollhouse — closed its doors this week.

The closing ended the store’s 14-year-run as a must-visit destination for any family willing to brave the big crowds.

And it followed the July closing of F.A.O. Schwarz, the palace of expensive and unique toys romanticized in the 1988 film “Big.”

Shoppers and tourists came out this week for a last look at the type of extravagance unavailable to shoppers online or at the local mall.

“It’s a one-in-a-million type of place,” said Janet Roman of Berlin, Connecticut, as she gave her 9-year-old grand-nephew, Sherman Williams, his first — and last — tour of the 110,000-square-foot store. “Our Toys R Us doesn’t have a Ferris wheel in it.”

“When they were little guys, this was the big thing,” said Mike Packer of Wayne, Pennsylvania, whose 18-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter decided, for nostalgia’s sake, to take a final spin.

Toys R Us opened in Times Square in 2001, when the neighborhood was still only a few years removed from its bad old days as a center for adult entertainment and grime. The company decided not to renew its lease, which expires this month, because of the high rent, company spokeswoman Elizabeth Gaerlan said.

Toys R Us also cited high rent in July when it closed F.A.O. Schwarz, which had enraptured generations of children in two locations near Central Park.

She said the company is searching for another Manhattan flagship store and will try to find jobs for any of the more than 350 employees of the store who want to keep working at Toys R Us.

C. Bradley Mendelson, an agent for the building’s owner, Bow Tie Partners, said that rent for ground-floor space in the area — about $2,000 per square foot — has become extraordinarily expensive.

“Rent has gone from $400 a square foot to $2,000 in the last 15 years when they rented the space,” he said.

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