Only a handful of shopping centers built during post-World War II suburban expansion are in business today: Columbus is home to one of them. Since opening in 1956, Cross Country Plaza has survived tenant losses and stiff retail competition, but new owners see a healthy future for the city’s oldest shopping complex.
Atlanta-based Coro Realty Advisors partnered with G. H. Anderson & Co. and Bavin Southeast Investments to purchase the 368,360 square-foot facility from Glenwood Development Co., who acquired it in 2004. Over the next several months, the group will focus on finding new businesses to fill empty spots and making adjustments to benefit current tenants. “Our goal is to have a center where everybody does well,” says Robert Fransen, Chief Investment Officer for Coro Realty.
For nearly six decades, Cross Country Plaza has served shoppers from its prominent spot on Macon Road. For the first few years, it competed with downtown stores for business before losing some steam when Columbus Square Mall opened across the street in 1965. The phenomenal growth of North Columbus, including the addition of Peachtree Mall and Columbus Park Crossing, drew even more attention away from the shopping center and its Midtown base.
But the area has experienced resurgence over the past few years. The Columbus Library and Muscogee County School District building now occupy part of the space where Columbus Square once stood. A new city services complex and aquatics center will be opening soon as well. MidTown, Inc., founded in 2005, has used the power of public-private partnership to facilitate major improvements. Cross Country Plaza’s new owners cited these factors, along with Glenwood’s multi-million dollar renovations, as incentives to invest here. “What we’re trying to do is capitalize on what’s there today…improve where we can, and be a long-term member of the community,” says Fransen.
Ups and downs aside, Columbus’ first shopping center still has business juice. Established favorites like Publix and Chuck E. Cheese still attract customers. T.J. Maxx, Hibachi Grill and the Goodwill retail store are welcome additions to the mix. Like its Midtown home, Cross Country Plaza continues to roll with the changes- and the best days may be yet to come.