Sale may be on the horizon for vacant Wawa store site

August 27, 1996|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,SUN STAFF

One month after a teen-ager was convicted of burning down the community-supported Wawa Food Market in the Thunder Hill Neighborhood Center in east Columbia, a local developer is said to be interested in buying the vacant site and attracting another convenience store.

Robert Freedman, a partner for Corridor Commercial Real Estate Group, which is marketing the estimated $300,000 site, said he is in negotiations with an unidentified developer to bring in a convenience store to serve that community in Columbia's Oakland Mills village.

Wawa, a Pennsylvania company, owns the half-acre-plus site and is not interested in reopening its store there.

"We do have someone who is willing to step in and do something that the national companies don't want to do," Freedman said. "It's just taking some time."

Though nothing has been signed, Freedman said he believes the site at Log Cabin and Thunder Hill roads eventually will be sold but concedes that "I'm not going to get a 7-Eleven, a Royal Farm or another Wawa." He explained that those companies want locations on main thoroughfares.

When the 25-year-old Wawa store burned down in April 1995, it meant an end of an era. The store was the first Wawa in the new town and brought to life how the town's concept of neighborhood centers within walking distance could work. Neighbors relied on it for milk, eggs and other necessities.

Freedman said the store generated $14,000 to $16,000 in sales each week before its closing.

The store sustained $400,000 in damage during the single-alarm fire, which fire investigators ruled was deliberately set.

In county juvenile court last month, a judge found a 19-year-old Glen Burnie man guilty of arson, malicious destruction and conspiracy.

Court testimony showed that he and a second teen- ager, charges against whom were dropped, went to meet girls at the Wawa. Bored when the girls did not show up, the two set a stack of newspapers on fire in front of the store.

Neighbors collected more than 700 signatures during an unsuccessful petition drive aimed at persuading the company to reopen the store. But Wawa officials said they would try to find another location for a store in the Thunder Hill area instead of reopening the extensively damaged store.

The search for a new site failed, and the company decided to sell the property.

Pub Date: 8/27/96

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