Photos courtesy of: Something Blue Photography
Located in Cary, NC, Cary Towne Center serves a demographic with a high median income, including lots of young families and stay-at-home moms. As CBL & Associates Properties considered renovating the mall to better serve this clientele, they knew that getting young families into the center was a priority.
“We are getting feedback from tenants that they feel like traffic has increased in that area,” says General Manager Josh Harmon. “It’s a little early to say that it’s all due to the play area but, so far, we have had a lot of good feedback from customers and tenants alike.”
With a demanding demographic to serve, Cary Towne Center chose to go above-and-beyond expectations, installing the largest indoor play area in CBL & Associates’ portfolio, complete with a custom theme: fine arts, including dance, music and art.
“As one of the older shopping centers in the region, we’ve been working on several projects to refresh the property,” says Harmon. “The new play area is just one of our big efforts to breathe new life into the property. We wanted amenities that would give moms a place to bring their kids and to shop at the same time.”
Jeff Evans, PLAYTIME’s Director of Business Development, says the entire PLAYTIME team had fun designing and creating the play elements for Cary Towne Center.
“This was one of those fun projects in which the client kept pushing the envelope, clearly wanting to give their customers something unique,” says Evans. “After hearing what was important to the sponsor, I was inspired with a theme we’d never done… Art in the Eyes of a Child . Our design team and artists – and even our installation team – hit this one out of the park!”
The play area is sponsored by celito.net, a local internet service provider. Harmon says the play area was a perfect fit for the company, which stresses community involvement for all of its employees. From the celito website: “Proudly rooted within the community, celito strives to make Raleigh a better place to live and work by encouraging personal community involvement for team members and by serving local non-profits with premier Internet, data, voice and consulting solutions.”
Additionally, Harmon says that the fine arts theme appealed to celito’s president.
“The president and owner of celito, Sharat Nagaraj, sits on a lot of local boards and he is very into the arts,” says Harmon. “When he took a look at the play area, it fit right in with his interest in the arts and with his company’s commitment to give back to the community.”
The play area has also garnered significant media coverage. This is an excerpt from a story run on WRAL.com:
At 2,000-square-feet, the playground, across from Dave & Busters, Belk and Gymboree, is the largest mall playground for CBL & Associates Properties, the mall’s owners and one of the largest mall property owners in the country.
Cary Towne Centers’ mall playground has a music, art, dance and literature theme. Eleven large, soft play pieces are scattered across a colorful themed rug. It’s sponsored by Raleigh-based celito.net, which will provide free wifi throughout the mall by the end of the year.
Kids are able to climb inside a ballet shoe and slide down another one; crawl under a keyboard; and climb up a blob of paint, for instance. A circle of soft, cherry red benches serves as a border between the play area and the rest of the mall. The new play area, like those at other malls, is designed for babies to preschoolers.
Josh Harmon, the mall’s general manager and a father of two, said the addition is part of an effort to makeover the aging mall in an area where new and different kinds of shopping options are popping up and to make it more family friendly. A carousel, kiddie train, indoor bungee jumping and coin-operated rides remain.
“We want to continue to improve the mall as a community center and make it a place for families to shop,” Harmon said. “It’s been a great experience and PLAYTIME has been great to work with.”