After paying more than $36 million for Cross Country Plaza on Macon Road, expect the new owners to continue the shopping center’s momentum, said a partner with the former owner, Glenwood Development Co.
“I think, fortunately, for the shopping center, we found a great buyer,” said Leo Wiener, with Huntersville, N.C.-based Glenwood. “They’re local in Atlanta. They operate a lot like we do. They’re heavily involved in the community. They have the same kind of vision for where to take the shopping center to the next level. It just kind of all worked out.”
Glenwood Development had owned Cross Country since 2004, purchasing it for $20.8 million from a New York investment fund. It pumped roughly $10 million into a renovation that was completed last year.
Documents filed with the Muscogee County Clerk of Superior Court show Atlanta-based Coro Realty Advisors, using the name Cross Country Plaza LLC, purchased the 368,360-square-foot property on June 5 for $36,650,000. G.H. Anderson & Co. and Bavin Southeast Investments are part of the purchasing group.
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“We didn’t give it away and they certainly didn’t overpay. When you put something up on the market, you get a reality test,” said Wiener, acknowledging Glenwood Development did not sell about 37,000 square feet of the center. That includes a vacant movie theater building just behind the OfficeMax store.
“We’re working on a few different ideas of what we want to do with it,” he said.
Robert Fransen, a partner and chief investment officer with Coro Realty, said his company plans to reconfigure some of the space in Cross Country Plaza, likely shifting tenants around into smaller or bigger stores.
He said the firm already is in discussions with several prospects interested in spaces ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 square feet. The portion of the center from Radio Shack to the empty Blockbuster Video store and around to the Pet Supermarket are the primary focus at this point.
“We think there are some logical entrants that aren’t in the market,” he said. “We’ve got a pretty sizeable retail portfolio in the state of Georgia and we feel like we can maybe, through our contacts, bring some national tenants that aren’t there yet.”
The portion of the shopping center with the newer Publix supermarket, T.J.Maxx and OfficeMax stores is in good shape and “provides the cash flow and the stability” for the property, Fransen said.
Cross Country Plaza, which dates to 1957 and is the city’s oldest shopping center, was the largest property in Glenwood’s portfolio and it was with mixed emotions that the company parted with it, said Wiener, although the proceeds will be used to buy and improve another property in the future.
“Our decision to sell had absolutely no reflection on the shopping center, nor where we think the value can continue to go. We think it will continue to get better,” said Wiener, expressing pride in the effort his company put into the center.
“Our goal has always been on these redevelopments to leave the shopping center and local community in a better condition than we found it,” he said. “I think it would be hard to argue that we haven’t done that. We’ve put a lot of money into the center, got involved in the community, turned tenants in the center around, and brought the vibrancy back.”
Glenwood Development also has no interest in acquiring Midtown Shopping Center across Macon Road from Cross Country, Wiener said. He does believe his firm’s renovation work at Cross Country made the job of Richard Waddell, Midtown Shopping Center’s owner, easier for the upcoming upgrade of that commercial site anchored by a Kmart store.
Shannon Shuman Martin, a partner and broker with Atlanta-based Retail Leasing Advisors, which is helping Waddell with the project, said Monday Kmart has renewed its lease and is not part of the redevelopment.
The 199,763-square-foot shopping center, constructed on 43 acres in 1964, is situated adjacent to city property that includes the Main Public Library, the Muscogee County School District headquarters, the new City Service Center and an aquatics center opening this summer.
“I can tell you that we have deals pending with four soft goods tenants — two anchors and two junior anchors,” said Martin. “We are very excited about the direction the center is taking.”
The prospects are still working their way through the final approval process, she said, offering no timeline for when they will be unveiled and construction might begin.
Waddell, managing partner of Columbus-based Midtown Associates, which owns the center, has said the work should begin this year. About 70,000 square feet of retail space is expected to be redeveloped.
Traffic count data from the Columbus Planning and Traffic Engineering departments show that 38,820 vehicles pass in front of Cross Country Plaza and Midtown Shopping Center on average each day. Interstate 185 on each side of the highway’s intersection with Macon Road averages between 62,000 and 69,000 vehicles daily, according to the 2012 traffic counts.