More than a grocery Vibrant new store should erase some of the doubts people had about Oakland Mills.

November 13, 1998

A CROWD of more than 1,000 people showed up yesterday for the grand opening of a new Metro Food Market in Oakland Mills village. The promise of $25 in free groceries for the first 500 customers proved a powerful lure, even in affluent Columbia.

Two hours after it opened, the supermarket was still limiting the number of customers who could enter so that cashiers wouldn't be overwhelmed. It was an impressive beginning for a store that must play a role beyond being Columbia's newest purveyor of meats and vegetables.

Doom and gloom was heard when the Giant grocery in the Oakland Mills village center closed in June 1997. There were fears that Oakland Mills, one of the original villages in Jim Rouse's planned city, was being written off as outdated.

People associated the loss of the grocery store with a sagging rate of home ownership and a perception of high crime. They spoke jealously of the fancy new shops the Rouse Co. was putting into Columbia's newest village, River Hill.

Rouse's face lift of the Oakland Mills village center, featuring the new Metro store, should erase a lot of that pessimism. The new facilities are superior.

Shops are no longer hidden within a dimly lighted enclosed mall. Entrances facing the parking lot can be seen by passers-by. The market, with its cafe tables, sushi bar and exotic groceries such as Russian banana fingerling potatoes, should draw customers from beyond Oakland Mills.

The shopping center's rebirth doesn't cure all that ails Oakland Mills. An old Roy Rogers restaurant that McDonald's bought but declined to re-open remains shuttered a year later. But reopening the village center with a bigger supermarket should generate the traffic needed to get more people to see that Oakland Mills is not just a good place to do business, it remains a good place in which to live.

Pub Date: 11/13/98

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