Kadie the Cow…..

Who’s Next? A Look At Big-Box Retailers That May Land At Columbus Best Buy Location.

Alton MitchellWed, Feb 20, 2019
This Best Buy store on Manchester Expressway in Columbus will be moving to Columbus Park Crossing soon leaving more than 45,000-square-feet of retail space open near Peachtree Mall.

COLUMBUS, GA: There has been a lot of talk circulating around Columbus about the future of Kadie The Cow. The iconic Landmark that has sat above Columbus’ Manchester Expressway since the late 1960’s. The announced relocation of the Best Buy store on Manchester Expressway sparked a community topic of the future of the cow. Now that Columbus officials have confirmed Kadie is safe in her current location. It is time to think about the future of the Best Buy store on Manchester Expressway.

The Columbus Best Buy store is located in 45,000-square-feet of retail space near Peachtree Mall and Interstate 185 in Columbus. The store has been at the location since 2003, but announced last month that it would be locating in the near future to a location in the Columbus Park Crossing shopping development. The vacating of the property will open a huge retail opportunity for a big box retailer to enter into the Columbus market. The question becomes which retailers may find their home in the retail space.

A posting on the real estate website Loopnet shows the Best Buy store is 45,000-square-feet with more than 300 parking spaces. In addition, the free standing structure has more than 2.5 additional acres of land that have not been developed. The prime location between Manchester Expressway and Interstate 185 averages more than 50,000 vehicles traveling past the highly visible store front on a daily basis. So which retailers may have an interest in this type of property.

Columbus residents have long carried a list of shopping options they would love to see enter the Columbus market. As the regional shopping hub for west Georgia and east Alabama, Columbus has the potential to land big box retailers that other markets may not carry the population to lure into their markets. While many feel Columbus is under served in retail offering there is a lot of potential to land a major retailer at the soon to be vacated Best Buy location.

Columbus residents have long expressed interest in landing big names such as Bass Pro Shops, Cabella’s, Costco, Whole Foods, or Dave and Busters. However, what are the chances that one of these retailers may end up in the Columbus market? The chances that one of these may end up occupying the former Best Buy store may be better than expected.

The first thing to look at is Columbus population, the city has seen marginal population growth over the years as of 2017 was recorded at 194,058 residents. Columbus’ Metropolitan population was recorded at 303,811 residents. However many in the real estate market will point to Columbus’ Combined Statistical Population which includes the Auburn-Opelika-Lee County area and gives the city a total population of 469,327 residents. These numbers open the area up to many retailers wanting to come into the market.

One retailers that the Chattahoochee Valley has long sought to see land locally is Costco. There is an entire Facebook page dedicated to bringing the wholesale retailer to Columbus. A similar page was started in the Newnan-Coweta County, Georgia area which learned last year a new Costco will be constructed in the Newnan area and expected to open this summer.

The Newnan Costco store is set to be made up of 156,805-square-feet, which is slightly larger than the retail space being left by the vacating Best Buy store in Columbus. Newnan’s demographics are also much smaller than Columbus. However, the median income in Newnan exceeds Columbus which is attracting to many retailers. The Newnan area averages a median income of slightly over $53,000 for a family. The Columbus area has median family income of a little over $42,000 annually.

Costco has not openly shown any interest in the Columbus market. However, it was rumored that the store was slowing U.S. development and focusing more on growing an international presence. The Newnan store now under construction is just one of two potential stores coming to Georgia. News has been announced that Costco may have plans to build a store in the Macon, Georgia area. A city with a smaller population than Columbus and a smaller average family income with a rate of $37,477 annually in the city of Macon. This means that Costco may not be out of the picture for Columbus and with 2.5 acres open for development at the Best Buy location in addition to 45,000-square-feet already open, Columbus may end up with another wholesale warehouse in the near future.

Another retailer that has been on the minds of Columbus residents is an outdoors enthusiast paradise. This retailer can come in one of two companies either Bass Pro Shops or Cabella’s. Bass Pro Shops recently became the parent company of Cabella’s which has been more dominate in expanding into second tier markets like Columbus. There are presently three Bass Pro Shops in Georgia. They are located in Macon, Savannah, and Lawrenceville, which is just outside of Atlanta. The chain has one Cabella’s store in the peach state located in Augusta. Bass Pro Shops has three Alabama stores located in Leeds, Prattville, and Spanish Fort and one Cabella’s store located in Huntsville.

The possibility of Columbus landing a Cabella’s store is a retailer that may not be off the radar. Cabella’s typically builds its stores in various layout formats. The chains smallest store is located in Kerney, Nebraska and has 35,000-square-feet. The largest store is located in Hamburg, Pennsylvania and measures in at 250,000-square-feet. The Georgia store in Augusta opened in 2014 and has 42,000-square-feet of retail space. The Huntsville store opened a year later in 2015 and brought 82,000-square-feet to the Rocket City.

Demographically speaking Columbus, Augusta, and Huntsville share many similarities. While Huntsville has a much larger metro population at more than 465,000 and a slightly higher average family income the city is one has a population of 194,585 residents very close to Columbus’ population of 194,058 residents. Looking at the demographics chosen for these locations Columbus may stand a chance at landing a Cabella’s store in the near future or possibly at the former Best Buy location.

The city of Huntsville also recently announced another major retailer that Columbus residents would love to see was heading to their city and that was Dave and Busters. Dave and Busters has long been on the mind of Columbus residents as a possibility of a new indoor amusement source in the Fountain City.

Dave and Busters is presently constructing its second Alabama location in Huntsville and it is expected to open in July of this year. The store being constructed in Huntsville come less than a year after the chain opened its first store in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover. The Hoover store measured in at 36,000-square-feet while the Huntsville store will be part of a new design started in 2018 for Dave and Busters at 26,500-square-feet.

In 2018, Dave and Busters announced the chain would start constructing smaller centers between 15,000-20,000-square-feet. Officials with the company planned to open between 20-40 of these centers with the first opening in the city of Rogers, Arkansas last year. The city of Rogers is a relatively small city with a population of near 66,000 people. Rogers is a part of the metro area for Fayetteville, Arkansas and includes places like Bentonville, the headquarters of Walmart stores. The metro area surrounding Rogers is made up of more than 460,000 residents, very similar to that of the Columbus-Opelika-Auburn CSA. Huntsville has a Metropolitan population of 455,000 residents.

Dave and Busters outlines a specific market that it likes to move into on its website. Typically the chain looks for locations with a population of 700,000-1,000,000 people within 10-miles of the center. The chain also looks for retail space with a minimal of 26,500-square-feet- and between 300-400 parking spaces. With that information at hand the former Best Buy location has potential for a future Dave and Busters, but Columbus population numbers may prevent the chain from coming into the local market.

Another retailer that Columbus residents have wished for is grocery retailer Whole Foods. Whole Foods much like Dave and Busters has outline specific requirements that they see for markets they wish to enter. Whole foods looks for key elements such as a population of 200,000 people within 20 minutes of the store, a retail space between 25,000-50,000-square-feet, a large number of college educated residents, a stand alone structure, and high traffic and visibility to the storefront.

So looking at the requirements, the former Best Buy store would be ideal for a Whole Foods. Columbus’ population exceeds the 200,000 requirement within a 20-minute radius as Phenix City provides and additional 37,000 residents to the market. The existing storefront is 45,000-square-feet and free standing, placing the location within the space and structural requirements. Columbus State University is only a hop away across Manchester Expressway providing the college-themed age base that attracts Whole Foods. According to U.S. Census data in the city of Columbus about 25.7% of the population has a Bachelors Degree or higher. Finally high visibility from Manchester Expressway and Interstate 185 make the property ideal with more than 50,000 vehicles passing the location daily.

Whole Foods recently opened a new store in Montgomery, Alabama in 2016. Montgomery is another market that is very similar to Columbus. The city has a population of slightly over 199,000 residents and a median family income of $42,419. Almost identical to that of Columbus. Montgomery’s college educated population consists of 32% of the cities population. Montgomery’s metro population is reported at 373,903 people.

Based upon the search criteria and requirements it appears Columbus may be a fit for Whole Foods. If that location is at the Best Buy or elsewhere in the city is yet to be told.

Columbus residents have long expressed their want for the retailer Belk. The chain was set to enter the Columbus market in 2007, when Charlotte, North Carolina-based Belk purchased rival retailer Parisian which operated a store at nearby Peachtree Mall. The Parisian store closed in February of 2007 with initial plans to reopen as Belk in late 2007, but those plans were later scrapped and the store front sat vacant for nearly a decade until Plano, Texas-based At Home opened a store location in Peachtree Mall.

Columbus residents have still wanted Belk to enter the local market. The store operates stores usually in a range of 50,000 to 80,000-square-feet. Several of the chains stores exceed 100,000-square-feet. Belk has been slow with its growth over the years and has seen a gradual downsizing of locations over the past decade. In 2007, the chain had 311 stores. As of 2017 the chain was down to 293 store across 16 southeastern states.

Columbus has been on the radar of Belk before and as the company goes through its restructuring it is unsure if the Fountain City will be home to the fashion retailer in the near future. If so the Best Buy location on Manchester Expressway would be only feet away from the previously planned location at Peachtree Mall.

As Kadie the Cow sits nestled in her pasture atop the hill over Manchester Expressway she is safe for now

pending the decision of the next retailer to fill in the storefront that started as a dairy more than a half-century ago. As Best Buy begins its move north the question arises who will be the next retailer to fill in the 45,000-square-feet just inches away from Peachtree Mall. That maybe one of the retailers mentioned or another unnamed or unforeseen retailer.

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