CARY – It’s been nearly three years since Epic Games announced its $95 million acquisition of the 87-acre site of Cary Towne Center mall for its new headquarters. In late 2020, completion of the project was anticipated for 2024. All but one section of the property has been razed, yet there are no visible signs of new development and no zoning or planning requests have been filed with the Town of Cary.
So what’s going on?
For its part, the privately held gaming company is being quiet about its plans.
In an email to WRAL TechWire, company spokesman Dana Cowley said: “We have no updates to share at this time and will let you know if that changes.”
A year ago, Epic said it would continue to move ahead with construction despite agreeing to pay a record $520 million in fines to the Federal Trade Commission for privacy violations and other matters involving Fortnite game. According to a spokesperson Epic remains committed to the massive project. It’s been little or no comment since.
Epic Games owns Fortnite, one of the world’s most popular online video games. The company was founded in Maryland in 1991 and moved its headquarters to Cary in 1999. Its operations are currently housed at 620 Crossroads Boulevard in Cary. The company has owned that nearly 97,000-sq.-ft. space since September 2003, according to Wake County real estate records. Epic maintains more than 40 offices worldwide, according to its website.
Scot Berry, chief development officer for the Town of Cary, confirmed that Epic Games has thus far filed no development plans with the Town.
The company’s next step, in fact, might be a re-zoning request.
New York-based Turnbridge Equities, prior to selling the property to Epic, had the site re-zoned for mixed use pursuant to a re-development vision it later abandoned.
“They [Epic Games] could use the existing zoning or re-zone it back to all-office,” said Berry. While he stays in touch with Epic officials, Berry said he has not been informed of any changes to company plans for the new headquarters. “We’ve talked to them, but it’s been a month or so,” he said.
Epic is currently engaged in antitrust lawsuits against tech giants Apple and Google, litigation that Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney has dubbed “Project Liberty.” He’s currently attending daily sessions of the Google trial now underway in federal court in San Francisco.
The cases involve fees imposed by app stores on game developers. Earlier this week the federal judge overseeing Epic’s case against Google ordered the two companies to seek an out-of-court settlement. Epic’s litigation with Apple may soon be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s unclear how the two cases might be impacting Epic’s plans to move forward with its new Cary campus.
Like many large tech firms, Epic has shed jobs amid a slowdown in the industry. In early October, the company announced that it would be laying off more than 800 employees nationwide, including 170 positions in Cary and Raleigh.
Among employees let go was a senior executive focused on real estate development. Eipc never responded to a TechWire inquiry about who was laid off and what that person’s responsibilities were.
At the same time, tech employers are struggling to gauge office space utilization trends amid speculation that remote work preferences deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic may be here to stay. The global consultancy McKinsey & Co. is predicting that by 2030, office space demand in some U.S. cities might be 20 percent lower than it was prior to the pandemic.
For several generations of Triangle residents, Cary Towne Center had been a retail mainstay since its opening in 1979 as Cary Village Mall. Its closure in early 2021 prompted a round of reminiscences and even a “Remembering Cary Towne Center” Facebook group, which gathered nearly 1,300 members and remains active.