Cross Country Plaza in Columbus is losing one of its major anchor tenants, with the OfficeMax store planning to close its doors by Sept. 30.
OfficeMax, which encompasses 23,500 square feet of space, has done business at the 3201 Macon Road Road shopping center about 20 years. It opened in the mid-1990s, around the same time that Publix supermarket did.
“Office Depot bought OfficeMax (in 2013) and we knew that they had recently remodeled the Office Depot over off Airport Thruway and would do something different,” said Vickie Smith, manager at Cross Country Plaza, which dates to 1956 and is the city’s oldest shopping center.
“We do have a couple of people that are looking at it,” she said of the OfficeMax space. “We don’t have a deal signed yet, but we are very close. Hopefully, we’ll fill that one up pretty quickly ... I would say no later than early next year we should have somebody lined up for that space.”
Smith said Coro Realty Advisers, the Atlanta-based company that owns Cross Country Plaza, would entertain dividing up the OfficeMax space for more than one tenant. But the deal now in negotiations would keep it as one larger occupant.
“We’re open to all options,” she said. “We don’t have a fitness center in this area, so that’s one the space could possibly work well for. We wouldn’t mind having a large retail store. It’s not big enough for a Belk, but we would love to get something of that nature.”
Aside from OfficeMax, the major anchors at Cross Country Plaza are the 54,340-square-foot Publix, the 24,877-square-foot T.J. Maxx clothing store, the 19,768-square-foot 2nd and Charles store, and the relocated 14,644-square-foot Tuesday Morning home store. It also has two large eateries, Hibachi Grill & Buffet and Chuck E. Cheese’s, both of which are about 15,000 square feet.
James Manning, manager of OfficeMax, said there will be no liquidation sale at the location and that the handful of employees at his soon-to-be-vacated store should have an opportunity to transfer to Office Depot, which is about three miles away from Cross Country Plaza.
“Whatever product that is going to be left over from regular sales and things like that, they’re just going to be packed up and distributed throughout the rest of the district,” he said of the OfficeMax inventory after the store’s Sept. 30 closing.
The Office Depot store in Columbus has been open more than two decades. It is among nearly 50 locations that have been remodeled across the U.S. into the Boca Raton, Fla.-based office supply retailer’s “store of the future” design. The Columbus location is one of only three in Georgia thus far to have the refreshed look and smaller layout, with the other two in Marietta and Conyers. A store in Montgomery, Ala., also has the design.
“They pretty much cut those things (square footage) right in half. What is in there is very well organized,” Manning said. “The store looks great over there.”
Office Depot, which saw its proposed merger with the Staples office supply retail chain fall through in 2015, has been steadily closing stores since and watching its overall sales slide because of fewer locations and “challenging market conditions,” it has said in financial reports.
The retailer shuttered 181 stores in 2015, followed by 123 more last year, with plans to close at least 75 more this year. In all, as part of its OfficeMax “integration,” the company wants to have about 400 fewer outlets nationwide. It now has about 1,400 locations.
“The company expects the rate of sales decline to improve in the second half of 2017 based on improvements in customer retention, implementation of new customer wins and growth from strategic business initiatives,” Office Depot said in its most recent second-quarter earnings report.
The restructuring of store locations and other cost-saving efforts should “deliver” more than $250 million in overall savings company-wide by the end of 2018, the company said.