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Staff photo by Mike Pare / Longtime Toys R Us store at Hamilton Place, which closed last year, will become home to a new Electronic Express.

A former Toys R Us store next to Hamilton Place mall will soon land an Electronic Express.

The retailer that sells TVs, computers and appliances has bought the 43,113-square-foot building and plans to rework part of it into a new location, said representatives for the company and mall owner CBL Properties.

Electronic Express, which currently doesn't have an East Brainerd presence, is expected to put in about a 27,000-square-foot store, said Rocky LeBlanc of the firm Azimtech Engineering.

He said work is slated to start soon with an opening likely to take place early next year at the Hamilton Place Boulevard site.

Electronic Express bought the building for $4.7 million, according to the Hamilton County Assessor of Property. A permit from the city's Land Development Office put the value of the work in the building at $225,000.

LeBlanc said the other part of the building, located in the Hamilton Crossing shopping center, will be leased to another future tenant.

Taylor Bostwick, the mall's marketing director, said she's looking forward to the retailer taking up the former Toys R Us location.

"It's great to have something filling such a big space," she said.

LeBlanc said the Nashville-based Electronic Express has been buying former Toys R Us stores and remaking them.

"They just did it in Franklin, [Tennessee]," he said.

The Toys R Us store at Hamilton Place closed in 2018 after its owner liquidated the chain's bankrupt U.S. operations after failing to find a buyer or reach a debt restructuring deal with lenders.

Toys R Us had earlier closed a store in Hixson in 2015.

The death of Toys R Us goes back to a $7.5 billion leveraged buyout in 2005 when Bain Capital, KKR & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust loaded the company with debt. The retailer was able to refinance debt, but the emergence of online competitors such as Amazon hurt results.

Electronic Express opened a store in Cleveland, Tennessee, in 2011. In 2015, the company entered Chattanooga with a location off Highway 153.

The work at Hamilton Crossing will come as the remake of the former Sears store is taking place on the opposite side of the mall. Dick's Sporting Goods will relocate from across Gunbarrel Road to a portion of the former Sears space. Also, a Dave & Buster's entertainment and restaurant venue is under construction in part of the space.

Bostwick said each is expected to open around March. She said there are two other spaces which aren't yet leased up. But work has started in the former Sears parking lot for the city's first Aloft Hotel.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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