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Real Estate - Commercial

Entrepreneur Buys Downtown Building For Escape Room Venture

By Emma Dill, posted Jun 21, 2024
Entrepreneur Logan Zanki recently purchased the building that formerly housed Shaw University in downtown Wilmington. (Photo by Emma Dill)
A local entrepreneur with plans to establish an escape room business purchased Shaw University’s building in downtown Wilmington.

Logan Zanki bought the building at 224 N. Front St. from Raleigh-based Shaw University for $953,500, according to a deed recorded June 13. Crews are renovating the interior and exterior to convert the building into escape rooms Zanki hopes to open this fall.

Zanki said the building, which was built in 1960 and has been vacant in recent years, has about 3,500 square feet on its first floor. Property records show Shaw University purchased the building in August 1990 for $155,000. The building had housed a local adult degree program for Shaw.

Zanki owns several local businesses, including an air duct cleaning service, a Christmas light installation business, a video game bus and a bounce house rental company. He initially set out to establish an indoor bounce house venue, but when he couldn’t find a suitable space, he looked into other options. He came across Game Over Escape Rooms.

The company’s escape rooms are designed and built in Greece, Zanki said, and feature detailed and realistic rooms. Shortly after learning about the company, Zanki flew to Florida to experience an escape room first-hand.

“It was jaw-dropping, how nice it was,” he said.

Last fall, he decided to establish a local franchise. The initial plans for the Wilmington location are to feature four themed rooms: the Lost City of Atlantis, Horror Circus, Illuminati, and the Harry Potter-inspired School of Magic.

“When you’re in the School of Magic, it looks like you’re literally in the castle at Hogwarts,” Zanki said. “It has that wow factor.”

It’s that immersive experience and attention to detail that Zanki believes will set his escape room apart from others downtown.

“What draws me to this is the attraction,” he said. “This is an attraction with an escape.”

Work has started on what Zanki estimates will be $230,000 in renovations to the building. That includes removing the existing carpet, ceiling tiles and insulation, extending some of the existing walls and making the former classrooms smaller to fit the escape room layout.

Contractors will also update the building’s plumbing, install a new HVAC system and new flooring and resurface the roof. Zanki plans to powerwash the building’s facade starting next week and add a new sign with backlighting, among other cosmetic changes.

Zanki said he aims to open Game Over Escape Room by the first week of October. The company currently has a handful of U.S. locations, including five in Florida and one in Georgia, with others coming soon in Pennsylvania and Texas.
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