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Sex shop deal falls through

Adult superstore aimed at Medford

A sex superstore chain's attempt to move into a vacant Medford grocery store fell through Wednesday after an agreement appeared to be in the works.

The owner of Cantwell's Markets said Wednesday afternoon that a deal was being finalized to sell his vacant store off Biddle Road to an Arizona-based company called Castle Superstores.

They will be taking over right away, Tom Cantwell said.

But later that afternoon, Cantwell said the deal had fallen through and that the 18,000-square-foot store at 1113 Progress Drive was still for sale or lease.

Cantwell said Castle Superstores was a retail chain but that he was not sure what they sold.

Castle Superstores claims, on its Internet site, to be Earth's Largest Adultstore and to feature thousands of sex-related products. There are eight stores around the country, including three in Phoenix, Ariz., the company's home base.

Cantwell declined to discuss why the sale fell through or whether the sexual nature of Castle Superstores had anything to do with the deal's demise.

It's nothing that I want to talk about, he said. It just fell through is all. There's no sale. Nothing's pending.

He said his real estate broker, Royce Real Estate Services, and Castle's brokers had been handling the negotiations. Calls and pages to Royce Real Estate Services were not returned.

The possibility of bringing Castle to the vacant Cantwell's store had been brought up with city officials.

The city's financial department said that First Federal Mortgage, an out-of-state company working with Castle, called in early August to find out about getting a business license for the sex superstore at that site.

Michelle Irwin, a city accounting clerk, said she faxed information on the business license process to First Federal Mortgage on Aug. 13. The mortgage company called back with some questions that the city is reviewing.

Irwin said First Federal described Castle as an adult novelty store and asked if there would be problems operating it at the Cantwell's site on Progress Drive.

City planners say there's no ordinance on the city's books to prevent adult stores from moving into retail buildings, regardless of location.

We would strictly look at it as retail, not as to what they sell, said city planner Suzanne Myers.

Castle touts itself as more of a department store that caters to an upscale class of customer. The stores are strictly retail -- meaning they don't feature peep shows, viewing booths or adult arcade games.

Each of our stores is clean, well-lit and a fun place to shop for couples, women and men, says the company's Web site,

Taylor Coleman, the owner of Castle Superstores, said he didn't know of a planned expansion to Medford.

However, he said he has hired real estate agents who seek out potential retail sites around the country. He has given the agents a list of criteria and asked them to investigate possible locations.

Coleman said he only sees the proposals for sites when they reach the final stages.

What I typically do is sign the written agreements, he said.

Coleman added that it's not unusual for one of his agents to find a site, get close to a deal and have it fall apart.