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Community Rallies for Second Chance Saloon

The Oakland Mills Village Center bar has been denied the option to renew its lease in 2014, according to the owners.

Second Chance Saloon in Columbia is in danger of closing if it cant reach a new lease agreement with the property owner. Credit: Second Chance Facebook page.
Second Chance Saloon in Columbia is in danger of closing if it cant reach a new lease agreement with the property owner. Credit: Second Chance Facebook page.


The Oakland Mills community has rallied behind Second Chance Saloon, which the owners say is in danger of closing at the Oakland Mills Village Center.

The bar’s co-owner Wendy Binder told the Howard County Times that they’re trying to get a new lease with Cedar Realty Trust, but were recently denied.

The village center leasing agent for Cedar Realty Trust was not immediately available on Friday to discuss the situation.

In a note to the community, Oakland Mills Village board chair Bill Gray wrote that Second Chance hasn’t been able to pay their entire rent at the property, which is $7,5000. Instead, according to Gray, the bar reached an agreement to pay about $3,500 per month to pay common area maintenance fees and real estate taxes “over the last few years.”

In addition, wrote Gray, the owners of Second Chance made renovations and are now in better financial position to negotiate a new lease.

Community members worried about losing a local business started a Change.org petition to encourage the property owners to renew the bar's lease and local political figures wrote their support for Second Chance.

Over 300 people have signed the petition, which states the bar is “a vital part of the community”.

County Executive Ken Ulman and County Council Chair Calvin Ball also threw in their support for the local bar. Ulman asked that Cedar “give every consideration” to keeping Second Chance open, while Ball called the bar “the Cheers of Columbia” where “You’re always greeted with a warm and welcome smile…”, according to the Howard County Times report.

On the bar’s Facebook page, Second Chance wrote “We have been proud to be a part of Oakland Mills Village Center for the last 5 years and hope that we can come together to continue to be a part of this community.”

The owners wrote they’d have to close by February 2014 if a new agreement is not reached.

The bar opened in 2008 at the former location of Last Chance Saloon, which closed in 2004. Recently it was recognized by the Restaurant Association of Maryland, which nominated it for best bar in 2013. It was chosen by Columbia Patch readers as the best local bar in 2012.

The bar is located at 5888 Rober Oliver Place in the Oakland Mills Village Center.

woodbine5 December 14, 2013 at 10:11 AM
I am confused by this article...maybe I am missing something. The article seems to say the bar hasn't been paying its rent-or at least not in full. If that is the case then why would any business renew their lease-regardless of how great they are?
Kathryn Wisniewski December 14, 2013 at 11:53 AM
We have seen this movie before. It's what happened to Produce Galore at the Wilde Lake Village Center. The space stood empty for years after the landlord raised the rent, and the village center is now being torn down. Second Chance was given a reduced rent for several years because the whole shopping center is struggling. No one else is likely to move in. Cedar Properties may have decided it would be more profitable to take a tax write-off. The health of the village centers is closely tied to the condition of adjacent housing. Prosperity attracts shoppers; poverty, not so much! Many of the older village centers are surrounded by subsidized housing or run-down low-rent privately owned complexes. Meanwhile, the centers at River Hill, Dorsey's Search, and Kings Contrivance are doing fine.
brilliantviolet December 14, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Second Chance is the only real bar in Columbia - not some suburban chain upscale micro-brew whatever... Oakland Mills is awesome and you're missing out if you haven't been. I live a couple blocks from the place and its actually a really great neighborhood - don't hate on what you don't know. We're nice people and deserve a place nearby to hang out and have a good time too- Second Chance is awesome!
Kathryn Wisniewski December 14, 2013 at 01:21 PM
Violet, I live within walking distance too. Just commenting on why businesses in that village center struggle. You need a healthy mix of owner-occupied and well-maintained rental properties to make a go of it financially. The CEO of Cedar Properties doesn't care that we are nice people.
brilliantviolet December 14, 2013 at 02:26 PM
You seem like one of those uppity persons who want to drive all the renters out for whatever reason - sorry I can't afford a house right now lady!
woodbine5 December 14, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Hey Violet-she isn't "hating"-sounds like you and your vitriol is the "hating"-why do you have to be so nasty in the middle of a civil discourse. Kathryn is merely stating FACTS! It has nothing to do with being uppity or not, it has to do with simple economics-The business owner of Cedar Properties has a responsibility to make a profit (just like Second Chance wants to). When neither is able to achieve that goal then they part ways. Cedar might be achieving their goal by a tax write-off which is only speculation by the way, and Second Chance was achieving that by paying a lower rent. Sadly for the patrons the formula for success for both companies is not working and that is why Second Chance will have to close. AND it is an ECONOMIC FACT that socio-economic income levels in an area determine a business's success-if the area of Second Chance is not able to sustain the needed business Second Chance needs to remain a viable concern then it closes. Economics 101.
Carl December 16, 2013 at 11:48 AM
"It's what happened to Produce Galore at the Wilde Lake Village Center. The space stood empty for years after the landlord raised the rent, and the village center is now being torn down." Please note that the Wilde Lake Village Center is being remodeled, not torn down.
Kathryn Wisniewski December 16, 2013 at 12:09 PM
You're right, Carl, but at the moment what you see is the tear-down phase. And it will be replaced by a model that is quite different from the original village center: more housing and no supermarket.
Kathryn Wisniewski December 16, 2013 at 08:20 PM
So I googled Cedar Realty Trust and found what looks like a mammoth publicly traded corporation that owns strip malls throughout MD, NJ and PA. Will they pay any attention to our little community? Fat chance! We are paying the price for a decision long ago to sell the village centers to outside entities. Very sad.
Sam Cunningham December 29, 2013 at 01:04 PM
@Kathryn: Cedar Realty Trust is a publicly traded business. And like all publicly traded business, they are in the business to make money for their shareholders and board members. You are correct; they will not give a rat's behind about Second Chance Saloon...especially since the Whole Foods that is going up "down the street". That is going to be some stiff competition for Food Lion...who is already "losing out" to Giant, Harris Teeter, Wegman's, and possibly Trader Joe's. And for the record, CRT owns properties from Boston to D.C., not just those three States you mention. Also, in case you have not noticed: all ten village centers have a grocery store, dry cleaners, liquor store, and a bar/restaurant...something new will replace Second Chance. Also, if I remember correctly, seven of the ten villages (Columbia) are in some stage of planning (for redevelopment). As for Second Chance: I have been going there for its entire five year existence. I was even a patron of Fire Rock, back when they housed the same location. I got to know Wendy and Declan and many of the servers, bartenders, and a few cooks. To my knowledge, Second Chance has never seen a profit in all of its five years.
Kathryn Wisniewski December 29, 2013 at 02:34 PM
@Sam: I think Long Reach lost its grocery store, and I greatly fear that we will lose Food Lion once their 5-year lease expires. Whenever I shop there, I only see a few other people going through the checkout lane. IMHO, the $7500 a month rent that Cedar Realty wants for the restaurant space is totally unrealistic. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see anyone else moving into the space if Second Chance couldn't make it.
Jenifer the Sexton January 24, 2014 at 08:36 PM
Following a meeting between Cedar Realty Trust and the Oakland Mills Village Board, the Second Chance Saloon has been granted an additional reprieve, until April. However, it seems that a loophole in the county tax code makes it more lucrative for Cedar to let the property sit empty than make the repairs the building needs. With all the recent press about improving the connection between our village center and Town Center, it wouldn't seem to be in anyone's interest to let the Second Chance be boarded up. If you would like to help preserve our neighborhood tavern, please contact your representatives in the Columbia Association and Howard County. Thanks!

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