Wilde Lake's Giant grocery is closing this fall

A company spokesman says the store does not have the capacity to serve its customers adequately

August 23, 2006|By TYRONE RICHARDSON | TYRONE RICHARDSON,SUN REPORTER

The Giant Food grocery store in Wilde Lake Village Center is scheduled to close this fall, an official for the supermarket chain said yesterday.

Barry F. Scher, a spokesman for Giant Food, said the Wilde Lake store does not have the capacity to suit the needs of its patrons. Constructed in the 1960s, the supermarket has about 17,000 square feet, compared with today's stores of 60,000 to 70,000 square feet.

"The store is very old, and we are closing it because we don't have the variety of products or space to adequately service the community," said Scher, who did not have an exact closing date.

Giant's lease at the village center is scheduled to expire in fall 2007.

This month, Giant Food, a Landover-based company, announced openings, renovations and closures of stores throughout the Delmarva region. In addition to Wilde Lake, Giant will close six other stores in Maryland and Virginia before the end of the year.

Rhoda Toback, chairwoman of the Wilde Lake Village Board, said the panel is working with Kimco Realty Corp., the New Hyde Park, N.Y., company that owns the village center, to keep residents apprised of the situation. Toback said the village has been preparing for Giant's closure but did not expect it this soon.

"We thought we would be working with a time frame of a year to prepare," Toback said.

During a meeting this month, the village board met with Kevin Allen, director of retail and office properties for Kimco, to discuss the impact if Giant did not renew its lease.

During the meeting, Toback asked Allen what the board could do, noting that other villages have struggled when supermarkets closed then later reopened under a new name.

Most recently, the Safeway store at the Kings Contrivance Village Center closed in June to make way for a larger building to house Harris Teeter, a North Carolina-based supermarket scheduled to open next summer.

Bill Miller, co-owner of Today's Catch Seafood Market, which is near the Giant, said he was not shocked to hear the supermarket is closing.

"There have been rumors it was going to close for years and the Giant, like General Motors, once held domination in this market, but not anymore," Miller said.

Some optimism

While some merchants said they were concerned about the closing, others said the impact could be minimal, noting loyal patrons and draws such as Produce Galore and David's Natural Market, two popular organic produce and specialty food stores.

Repeated phone calls and e-mail seeking comment from Kimco officials were not answered yesterday.

Miller, who has been in business for 29 years, moved to Wilde Lake Village Center after two stints of not having an anchor store while at Harper's Choice.

"The village centers are the heart of the village concept in Columbia. The heart of the village center is the grocery store, and without a viable grocery store the village center is in trouble," Miller said. "The positive note is that this Giant has been under-producing for some time and hopefully the landlord will bring in a viable grocery store."

Concern expressed

Toback said residents are calling the village center office expressing concern that the center will not have a supermarket.

"We have a significant population that lives in proximity to the village center and uses it for all their needs. This is going to be a blow to a lot of people," Toback said.

Giant has two stores close to Wilde Lake, at the Hickory Ridge and Dorsey Search village centers.

tyrone.richardson@baltsun.com

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