The purchase of Office Depot by Staples is likely to create more empty space in Twin Cities shopping centers.

The metro area has five Staples stores: Woodbury, Roseville, Bloomington, Minnetonka and Apple Valley. All are near either an Office Depot or an OfficeMax, which Office Depot recently acquired.

In the metro area, there are about 60 vacant so-called big-box stores, though some are as small as 15,000 square feet. That’s up from 48 before the consolidation of Office Depot and OfficeMax.

“At the height of the downturn in 2009, there were about 88,” said Tricia Pitchford, senior director of retail brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq. “So 60 is pretty stable for our market.”

Even if post-deal Staples closes some more locations in the region, other retail tenants or developers will take a look at the properties.

“There’s always a good healthy list of retailers that are circling our markets,” Pitchford said. “We’ve got the big-box liquor stores, a few new grocery stores chains and others coming in.”

Vacant big-box stores have been repurposed for other uses. “Sometimes, we see nontraditional uses such as a hospital or school that need space,” she said.

Kristen Leigh Painter