Monday, October 20, 2008

Harpers Choice Village Center

Talk about the text book case of a Village Center coming back from the brink of death not only to survive but to thrive. I can only hope that Wilde Lake Village Center can come back the same way Harpers Choice has. I hope that other Village Centers that are showing signs of slipping (Oakland Mills and Long Reach) can reach this same bench mark. They are however, on the east side of Columbia where there are many more retail oppurtunities than just the Village Centers. That's why those two Village Centers need to offer a better mix of tenants so they're aren't left to the wayside.
Now back to Harpers Choice, it opened in 1971 under a different name; "Joesph Square" a part of the current Harpers Choice Village Center is still refered to as Joseph Square. Its original "anchor" tenant was a Pantry as was with Oakland Mills. This space made Wilde Lake Giant look like a modern day Wegmans. It was tiny, it was the same size as the space currently occupied by Tuesday Morning which was originally meant for a drugstore. A People's Drug and eventually a CVS were tenants of that space.
Harpers Choice was different from the get go in that it had residences above its shops as well as offices. Today, as other Village Centers redevelop housing above the shops has become a common concept. The Pantry Pride chain went bankrupt in the 1970s and pulled out of both Harpers Choice and Oakland Mills and were replaced by a Valu Food and a Giant respectively.
Over its 38 year history Harpers Choice has played host to a variety of different tenants which include but aren't limited to: Parcel Plus, Today's Catch Seafood Market, Subway, Jerry's Subs & Pizza, Nations Bank, Chick 'N Friends, Trolley Stop, Hair Cuttery, Amoco Gas, Uniphoto Labs, Little Ceasers Pizza, Tropical Juice Bar, Gringada Mexican Restaurant, Atlantis Seafood & Grille, Lily's Southwestern Bar & Grill, and Modern Haircut.
Not surprisinly the 1990s brought change to Harpers Choice. Both neighboring Villages opened brande new centers each with a Giant that made Harpers Choice's Valu Food a joke. With the Village of Harpers Choice shouldering 25% of Columbia's low income housing crime began to increase (it had been a problem before hand but it became more frequent and serious)
The center also suffered from poor lighting and visibility from the road and an increasingly blighted appearance. Valu Food and many of the cneter's smaller tenants began leaving at an alarming rate. Other outside influences included white flight caused by the building of River Hill and a higher concentration of poverty. By 1996 Harpers Choice had only a hand full of tenants holding on. They inluded Nations Bank, Harper's Choice Liquors, Cleaners Plus, Strand's Hair Studio, CVS, Hunan Diamond, Gringada Mexican Restaurant, the Amoco Gas Station, and McDonalds. I remember going to the McDonalds and it feeling like it was the entire Village Center. I thought Harpers Choice was gone for good. Harper's Choice had other attributes such as The Athletic Club and the Florence Bain Senior Center and Kahler Hall. Also on site is Harpers Choice Middle School and the Cedar Lane School.Little did I know that the Rouse Company (Owners of the Village Center at the time) weren't about to let Harper's Choice go down without a fight. The Rouse company was prepared to open up the Village Center by demolishing and rebuilding a substantial part of it. First off the old Valu Food could not be back filled it was too old, too small, and too hidden. It had to go, McDonalds was attached to the building that housed Valu Food so it went with Valu Food. But wasn't McDonalds the only saving grace for the Village Center? Yes and it got a brand new building with better visibilty and access. Now came the hard part, selling the center to a national grocer and where to build it. Any national grocer or local one for that matter would be taking a huge gamble by coming to Harpers Choice especially because the new store would be the same size as newer stores in Dorsey's Search and Hickory Ridge. Safeway took a leap of faith and decided to be Harpers Choice's new anchor.
With the addition of Safeway back filling vacant store fronts became much easier. They included Nail Center, Parcel Plus, Papa Johns, Dunkin' Donuts, The Columbia Bank, The Hair Cuttery, and Uniphoto Labs.Renovations occurred in 1997 and by 1998 a new Harpers Choice Village Center was born. The question that everybody was banking on was "if we build it will they come back?" The answer was and is yes. Harpers Choice is one of Columbia's most profitable Village Centers new or old.Eleven years later Harpers Choice has continued to thrive. New additions include Columbia Sports Park which has a Mini Golf Course and a Skate Boarding Arena and an Adult Day Care Center. Renovations of the Florence Bain Senior Center, Kahler Hall, and the Athletic Club have also occurred.The current retail tenants are as follows; Safeway, Tuesday Morning, Nail Center, Harpers Choice Liquors, Ritas Ice Cream, Strands Hair Studio, Howard County Police Sataleitte Office, Papa Johns, Zapata's Mexican Grille, Acheiver's Hair Salon, The Columbia Bank, Hunan Diamond, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Misko's Ballet Studio, Bank of America, Harpers Choice Cleaners, Maiwond Kabob, and a BP Gas Station. Both the Safeway and Dunkin Donuts have undergone renovations which suggest a long term commitment to Harpers Choice.
Harpers Choice still has residences above and may not be the only Village Center to have them in the near distant future. Harpers Choice has made a come back that is beyond remarkable and with new development above Route 108 its clientele will only grow. Wilde Lake, now it's your turn!


ColumbiaWorried said...

Valu Food and many of the cneter's smaller tenants began leaving at an alarming rate. Other outside influences included white flight caused by the building of River Hill and a higher concentration of poverty. By 1996 Harpers Choice had only a hand full of tenants holding on.

I live less than 3 miles away from harper's choice and have for some time. I will never go to the harper's choice village center, ever. I don't really see what has changed from what you have described above. Sure, it's been renovated, but a pig with lipstick is still a pig. I truly feel now that I am polishing a turd with the CA dues that I pay yearly, which the majority of Columbia does not have to pay.

By the way, i don't mean to be overly negative, but Columbia is going the way of the Dodo as far as I'm concerned. Myself and many others I speak to are planning on abandoning this once great town. Hopefully that will not have to come to pass. Either way, at least someone cares to blog about it. Thanks.

ColumbiaWorried said...

which the majority of Columbia does not have to pay.

Excuse me. I mean that mainly homeowners have to pay, which are a dwindling majority.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
otr said...

Work from home theory is fast gaining popularity because of the freedom and flexibility that comes with it. Since one is not bound by fixed working hours, they can schedule their work at the time when they feel most productive and convenient to them. Women & Men benefit a lot from this concept of work since they can balance their home and work perfectly. People mostly find that in this situation, their productivity is higher and stress levels lower. Those who like isolation and a tranquil work environment also tend to prefer this way of working. Today, with the kind of communication networks available, millions of people worldwide are considering this option.

Women & Men who want to be independent but cannot afford to leave their responsibilities at home aside will benefit a lot from this concept of work. It makes it easier to maintain a healthy balance between home and work. The family doesn't get neglected and you can get your work done too. You can thus effectively juggle home responsibilities with your career. Working from home is definitely a viable option but it also needs a lot of hard work and discipline. You have to make a time schedule for yourself and stick to it. There will be a time frame of course for any job you take up and you have to fulfill that project within that time frame.

There are many things that can be done working from home. A few of them is listed below that will give you a general idea about the benefits of this concept.

This is the most common and highly preferred job that Women & Men like doing. Since in today's competitive world both the parents have to work they need a secure place to leave behind their children who will take care of them and parents can also relax without being worried all the time. In this job you don't require any degree or qualifications. You only have to know how to take care of children. Parents are happy to pay handsome salary and you can also earn a lot without putting too much of an effort.

For those who have a garden or an open space at your disposal and are also interested in gardening can go for this method of earning money. If given proper time and efforts nursery business can flourish very well and you will earn handsomely. But just as all jobs establishing it will be a bit difficult but the end results are outstanding.

Freelance can be in different wings. Either you can be a freelance reporter or a freelance photographer. You can also do designing or be in the advertising field doing project on your own. Being independent and working independently will depend on your field of work and the availability of its worth in the market. If you like doing jewellery designing you can do that at home totally independently. You can also work on freelancing as a marketing executive working from home. Wanna know more, email us on and we will send you information on how you can actually work as a marketing freelancer.

Internet related work
This is a very vast field and here sky is the limit. All you need is a computer and Internet facility. Whatever field you are into work at home is perfect match in the software field. You can match your time according to your convenience and complete whatever projects you get. To learn more about how to work from home, contact us today on workfromhome.otr214427@gmail.comand our team will get you started on some excellent work from home projects.

Diet food
Since now a days Women & Men are more conscious of the food that they eat hence they prefer to have homemade low cal food and if you can start supplying low cal food to various offices then it will be a very good source of income and not too much of efforts. You can hire a few ladies who will help you out and this can be a good business.

Thus think over this concept and go ahead.