River Hill center to open grocery store Sunday

November 06, 1997|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

The last of Columbia's village centers opens its grocery store Sunday, a 63,000-square-foot Giant that dwarfs the supermarkets in the planned community's older village centers.

At that size, it is clear that the Giant -- and the center -- is expected to draw shoppers from beyond Columbia's River Hill village.

Wayne A. Christmann of Columbia Management Inc., a division of the Rouse Co. that manages the centers, expects River Hill Village Center, near Routes 108 and 32, to draw customers from a 10- to 12-mile radius to the west, a fast-developing area of Howard County.

"This village center is the fulfillment of a grand plan that was developed back in the 1960s, and now we're anxious to get it done," said Christmann. "This store is a nice complement to the western portion of the county and will reach far beyond Columbia."

The River Hill Giant opens a few months after Giant closed an older store in Oakland Mills Village Center. Giant has stores in Wilde Lake, Dorsey's Search, Owen Brown and Hickory Ridge village centers and Ellicott City.

"Everyone said we were crazy when we opened our first store in Columbia in Wilde Lake Village Center," said Barry Scher, a Giant spokesman. "Now the area's grown phenomenally and this is our sixth store and it's going to do well."

Eleven more stores, including a wine-and-liquor outlet, a bagel shop, a bank, a hair salon and a cleaners, will open in River Hill Village Center on Nov. 16. By the end of the year, developers say, the center will feature a sandwich shop and a yogurt store, an eye-wear shop, a gas station, a pub and two fast-food outlets.

A 55,000-square-foot recreation center, with an indoor pool, gym and spa, is to open next summer. A 22,000-square-foot medical office building will open in the spring.

Space is available for another 30,000 square feet of retail stores, four stores and a sit-down restaurant, Rouse Co. officials said. Several churches, which meet in school auditoriums, are considering pooling funds to build an interfaith center in the village center, according to some of Columbia's Roman Catholic Church leaders.

The opening of the village center did not seem to bother merchants established on the border of Columbia, along Route 108.

"We're real happy to see [the village center] bringing more traffic the area," said Magdalene Arthur, owner of Clarksville Flower Station. "The Clarksville area had no place to get food without driving up Route 32 or all the way into Columbia. Now we have our own place to shop."

Pub Date: 11/06/97

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