Report: County Looking to Purchase Long Reach Village Center

The village center has struggled to compete with burgeoning shopping centers in south Columbia.

Family Market closed on July 17 at the Long Reach Village Center after being cited by the health department and failing to pay rent. Credit: Andrew Metcalf
Family Market closed on July 17 at the Long Reach Village Center after being cited by the health department and failing to pay rent. Credit: Andrew Metcalf

Howard County appears poised to buy more property in Columbia.

A report published online Wednesday in The Howard County Times says that the county is interested in purchasing the Long Reach Village Center.

The center has been struggling as large grocery and retail outlets like Lowe's, Target, Wegmans, and other national chains have filled the Snowden River Parkway corridor. Last year, the grocery store that anchored the village center, Family Market, moved out after it failed to pay rent and was cited by the health department for attempting to power the store with a generator.

The county is looking to purchase every property at the center except for the former grocery store, Richburn Discount Liquors, the Exxon Station and Deli Town, according to the report. 

Before finalizing the purchase, the County Council must pass legislation designating the area for redevelopment, which could be done as early as March, according to The Howard County Times.

The report did not state how much the county is offering for the retail center.

Currently the center is owned by America's Realty. Last summer, after crime spiked around the center, the Long Reach Community Association expressed their displeasure with the current owners.

Their lack of concern is demonstrated by the disintegrating appearance of the village center and parking lots," wrote the community association on its Facebook page in August. "The Board would like to have a productive dialogue with the village center owner but thus far our efforts to do so have been unsuccessful. Since the village center is privately owned, any future development would have to be privately initiated and financed."

Karen Hitcho, the Long Reach Village Board chair, told the Howard County Times, "We really welcome this initiative, I think it's a very positive step."

Recently, the county purchased the Verona Apartments in Oakland Mills, which generated concern in the village that the county was interested in placing more low- and moderate-income housing in the community.

Do you think the county should purchase the village center?
Peter Monaghan January 09, 2014 at 09:17 AM
The demise of this village center is imminent. The owners of the property and the surrounding community should get with the times and agree to abandon the space for retail, and get creative. Why not an alternative exercise facility? Or something else that the community needs that the area isn't already saturated with.


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