Oakland Mills Giant store definitely is to close in June, officials now say

March 11, 1997|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

Despite statements from officials last week that a Giant store in Columbia's Oakland Mills village scheduled to close in June could remain open, it appears that the store is definitely destined to close.

"I don't think there is any chance of that happening," Duke S. Kassolis, a Rouse senior vice president, said Friday of the possibility of the Giant staying open. "The fact of the matter is there is an agreement between Giant and the Rouse Co. already in place."

A Giant spokesman agreed. "That is the final decision, that we will close in June," said Mark Roeder.

Last month, Giant said it would close the small grocery in the ailing Oakland Mills Village Center after June 28 because of lack of sales.

Many residents feared the loss of the anchor store could force struggling village center merchants out of business -- and mark the death of the center itself -- while some said they felt Giant and Rouse had abandoned their village, one of Columbia's oldest.

When officials from Rouse and Giant faced a crowd of angry residents at a meeting last Wednesday to discuss the issue, they changed their tune just a bit.

Larry Angel from Giant and Wayne A. Christmann, who manages the village centers for the Rouse Co., said they would take residents' complaints back to their superiors to see if the supermarket could be kept open.

"It's not over until it's over," Angel said at the meeting. Christmann used the same words just minutes later in response to question from a member of the audience of about 150.

"Basically, that wasn't correct," Giant spokesman Roeder said.

Said Erin Peacock, village manager in Oakland Mills, "Well, I'm not surprised."

"In a way, I'd rather have them say, 'No way' than to give people hope when there is no hope," she said. "Then, maybe we can spend some of this energy resolving this and finding another tenant for that space."

Pub Date: 3/11/97

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