The Wilde Lake has closed, and advocates for the struggling village center said they hoped for a "good solution" to a boarded up eyesore.
The KFC at 5400 Lynx Lane, which stands at the main entrance to the from Twin Rivers Road, closed and boarded up its windows Monday, village officials said. It had been in that location since at least the year 2000.
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“The village center has enough challenges facing it and then having that boarded up building at the entrance is not a great thing to see,” said Carl McKinney, the Wilde Lake covenant advisor. “I’m just hoping for a good solution to this, a good conclusion. It don’t know what it’s going to be."
The KFC was owned by Kazi Family LLC, he said.
Kazi, a restaurant franchisee, has been in a bankruptcy dispute with its lender, GE Capital, according to the Restaurant Finance Monitor, a trade publication that reports on the restaurant industry.
The chain has also been closing locations across the country while it expands its reach abroad in places like China and India and faces increasing competition with other brands in the United States such as Popeye’s and Chick-fil-A.
McKinney said the property was auctioned off last month, but he said he was unsure of the new owner. Patch was unable to confirm the new owner Tuesday.
Kimco Realty has been in the midst of creating plans to , which it owns, with the exception of the lot under which the vacant KFC sits, McKinney said.
The redevelopment aims to convert Columbia’s oldest village center into an urban mix of retail and high-density housing.
During Columbia’s beginning’s, Wilde Lake was called Wilde Lake Village Green, and it was to be a hub of commerce and activity for residents in the city that burst onto the landscape in 1967.
Over time, shops began to close in an exodus that gained more steam after the village center’s anchor, Giant Food, shut its doors in 2006.
The latest closure of KFC caused concern among residents hoping for a better future for the center.
“The building sits in a very prominent space in the community and detracts greatly from the surroundings in its new state,” wrote Wilde Lake resident Matt Welborn in an email to Patch.
Kimco officials did not return phone calls by deadline regarding whether the company had interest in purchasing the location.