The delayed, much-anticipated renovation of the Long Reach Village Center will begin next week, a spokeswoman for Safeway grocery chain said yesterday.
"It's definitely going to happen. Construction will start next week," said Edith Chatman of Safeway, which plans to double the size of its grocery store at the center.
Community activists reacted with guarded optimism.
"We're a little skeptical out here," said Cecilia Januszkiewicz, who represents Long Reach on the 10-member Columbia Council.
Januszkiewicz said the Rouse Co., which owns the village center, had told community activists as long ago as last fall that construction was about to begin. Lately, Rouse had been looking at a May starting date.
The Village Center, built in 1974, has seen better days. Roughly half of the stores in the center's core are vacant.
All of the stores in this core face an enclosed courtyard, a design that is proving unpopular with today's consumers, who like the convenience and safety of strip-style retail centers.
The Safeway at the center is small compared with huge modern stores that generally top 50,000 square feet. The village center's expanded store will be 55,000 square feet.
The Rouse Co. will make some renovations to the rest of the center. It will knock down a former bank building to give the center a more open feel, although not as open as Rouse's newer village centers in Dorsey's Search and Hickory Ridge.
Wayne Christmann, a Rouse official who leases stores in village centers, said early yesterday that the Safeway expansion at Long Reach had not been made final. He said he hoped construction would start soon but that he did not know when.
Christmann did say the village center renovations would be completed by the end of the year and that work on the Safeway would be completed by spring of next year.
Chatman said the renovated store would be competed within nine months.
Pub Date: 6/06/97