The Rouse Co. and Safeway Inc. recently agreed to expand the Safeway supermarket that anchors the Long Reach Village Center, the first step in what Rouse says could be the eventual upgrading of the struggling shopping center.
The Safeway expansion -- and other plans for the 120,500-square-foot shopping center -- are in their early stages, said Cathy Lickteig, a spokeswoman for the Rouse subsidiary, Columbia Management Inc., that manages Columbia's village centers.
"At some point, the Safeway store will expand," said Ms. Lickteig, adding that Rouse also is considering other work at the Long Reach center, which opened in 1974. "We don't know when, and we don't know by how much."
Because plans are still in the early stages, Ms. Lickteig said, she could not be specific about the details of the supermarket's expansion.
Despite the lack of specifics, merchants in the Long Reach area were pleased to hear that the 28,500-square-foot Safeway is to be expanded.
"I think it'd be very good for business," said Helen Groomes, president of the Long Reach Village Merchants Association and owner of Total Concepts Hair Studio, which has been in the center for more than a decade.
Merchants and residents have long said that the center is in need of improvement. Some businesses have left, including First Fidelity Bank, which closed its 20-year-old branch at the center in August and moved it to The Mall in Columbia.
In an effort to turn things around, an Irish-American pub, Dodder and Poddle, opened in the center in July.