Opening of Harris Teeter in Columbia postponed

Grocery's Kings Contrivance site development OK hits a snag

September 08, 2006|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,Sun reporter

The opening of the Harris Teeter grocery store in Kings Contrivance Village Center has been pushed back because its site development approval was delayed, an official said.

Kevin Allen, director of retail and office properties for Kimco Realty Corp., a New Hyde Park, N.Y., company that owns the village center, said the supermarket will open in fall 2007 instead of the summer.

On Aug. 3, a Planning Board meeting was canceled because the five-member panel did not have enough members present for a quorum. During its meeting last week, the Planning Board approved the site development plans for Harris Teeter and also permitted a modest exemption in the number of parking spaces required at the village center from 556 to 499.

Allen said demolition of the village center's 40,733-square-foot supermarket building and the adjoining structure that once housed a Friendly's restaurant is expected to start in November.

"Now that we got the green light from the county, we can work on other agreements and bonds with the county. We're not going to be doing any leveling or any work for 60 -- plus or minus -- days," Allen said during a presentation Wednesday night before the Kings Contrivance Village Board.

Officials at Harris Teeter, the North Carolina-based supermarket chain, were not available for comment yesterday.

Geoffrey Glazer, vice president of acquisitions and development for Kimco, said the loss of parking spaces would have no adverse affect on the public because the village center parking lot rarely is full. He also said many cities and counties now believe that the standard widely used to determine the number of required parking spaces is excessive and have lowered the standard.

Since Safeway ended its lease in June, the village center has been without an anchor store -- the second time this has happened. Safeway took over the village center's supermarket building in 1999, months after Valu Food closed.

Since Safeway closed, Kimco has launched an extensive marketing campaign to continue drawing customers to the village center.

When Barbara Seely, chairwoman of the Kings Contrivance Village Board, asked village center merchants at Wednesday's meeting if they noticed a drop in business since the supermarket closed, many nodded in agreement.

Bill Harrison, owner of Kings Contrivance Liquor and Smoke Shop, said village traffic has been down since Safeway closed.

"We're down 10 percent on customer count based on the same time last year," Harrison said. "Grosswise, we are not down as much as I thought we would be. ... Overall, we are doing better than I thought we would."

Merchants urged Kimco officials to continue advertising the village center and its merchants.

Kathie VanNostrand, marketing director for Kimco's Mid-Atlantic region, said the company is promoting the center through advertising. It also is making plans to have a manned Goodwill trailer at the center.

"We can advertise for that. ... We can also have fliers at the Goodwill [trailer] with coupons that you can use at the stores in the village center. It's another way to draw customers to the village center," VanNostrand said.

The village center also hosts a farmers' market every Tuesday.

tyrone.richardson@baltsun.com

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