REAL ESTATE

Sycamore Avenue Downtown project moves forward

BY CSA STAFF

Hercules, Calif. Despite construction slowdowns that have plagued the nation, the Sycamore Avenue Downtown project has broken ground and will forge ahead, according to its developer Hercules Redevelopment Agency.

The project’s first phase, called Sycamore North, will consist of 96 residential units and approximately 40,000 sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space.

Ultimate plans include for-sale residential, rental residential and retail development. For the retail component, Hercules has partnered with Main Street Property Services as its leasing agent.

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FINANCE

OfficeMax Q1 profit drops 79%

BY CSA STAFF

Naperville, Ill. OfficeMax announced its first quarter 2009 results on Thursday, which included a steep profit decline of 79%, from $62.4 million in first quarter 2008 to $13.1 million in first quarter 2009.

Total sales decreased 17% in the first quarter to $1.9 billion, compared with first quarter 2008.

“Although our financial results declined in the first quarter vs. the prior-year period, we continued to make improvements to our business and to contain costs,” Sam Duncan, chairman and CEO of OfficeMax, said. “We improved retail segment operating expenses as a percentage of sales compared to the first quarter of 2008 as a result of reorganizing our management, more efficient execution, and tighter cost controls.”

OfficeMax’s same-store sales decreased 12.7%, and sales declined across all major product categories primarily due to weaker small-business and consumer spending.

OfficeMax ended first quarter 2009 with a total of 1,020 retail stores, consisting of 939 retail stores in the United States and 81 retail stores in Mexico. During first quarter 2009, OfficeMax opened six retail stores in the United States and closed two stores in Mexico and six in the United States.

For the full year 2009, OfficeMax said it expects to open as many as 12 retail stores, and shutter between 15 and 25 retail stores.

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News

Big Lots tries something new in Columbus

BY CSA STAFF

COLUMBUS, Ohio Big Lots has moved in a different direction with the opening of a store in an affluent area of Columbus, Ohio.

Dow Jones reported that the store now occupying a former Linens ‘N Things offers similar merchandise to othe Big Lots stores, but is differentiated by better in-store presentations and wider aisles.

“We’re offering a higher standard of presentation here,” said Tim Johnson, VP strategic planning, in an interview with Dow Jones. “We understand that this is a different type of customer that wants to be communicated with differently.”

According to Dow Jones, Big Lots is looking to change its image as a bargain-basement, rummage-sale store, to something a little more sophisticated.

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