The OfficeMax store in north Newark is closing.

The OfficeMax store in north Newark is closing.

As ThisWeekNews.com first reported on Wednesday, the store on Deo Drive will close its doors in June, according to corporate officials.

"As part of its natural business cycle, OfficeMax opens and closes retail locations on a regular basis," said Jennifer Rook, OfficeMax's manager of public relations.

The store opened in December 2007 and employed 15 to 20 people, Rook said.

Rook could not give a specific reason for the closing but denied that it was because of the recession.

According to the company's Web site, OfficeMax has more than 900 stores nationwide.

Cheri Hottinger, president of the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, said the Deo Drive area has some traffic problems nearby, but she said it's a viable location that attracts a lot of business.

"It's a good area," she said. "Walmart's not far away, and there's the Kroger there."

The Walmart on 21st Street attracts a lot of customers, Hottinger said, and the Kroger on Deo Drive recently expanded.

She said both of those stores carry some limited office supplies.

"They (OfficeMax) do have some competition close by," she said.

Hottinger said the strip center on Deo Drive seems to be able to retain businesses but currently has a few vacancies.

"There are a wide variety of companies in there," she said.

The strip center is anchored by Kroger, which added on to the east side of the building last year, and a new credit union is being built in front of the center this year. The area was busy enough to attract a Kohl's department store, despite traffic tie-ups to the east at state Route 13 and Deo Drive.

Hottinger said the bottleneck at Route 13 and Deo Drive is slated for improvements later this year.

The city of Newark is aligning Deo Drive to Waterworks Road, bringing the end of Waterworks south to align with Deo. The existing portion of Waterworks will become a cul-de-sac at the railroad, with no railroad crossing. The Waterworks intersection with Route 13 will remain open, but the traffic signal will be removed. The railroad crossing will have to be moved south to the new aligned road.

The project is expected to cost more than $3-million. Part of the funding is coming from the Licking County Area Transportation Authority (LCATS), and the city also received $1.8-million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to use on the project.

This is the third office-supply store to close in the area. Earlier this year, Office Depot closed its doors for the second time in the same location in Heath, and east Newark's Arwebb closed last year.

lwince@thisweeknews.com