Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Long Reach Village Center: Set to Fail Once Again

Surprise! The Safeway in Long Reach has closed! Actually this is only a surprise if you've been living under a rock for the entirety of 2011. It began with the fact that Long Reach was left out as chain wide renovations took place and then in the summer time the Pharmacy closed due to increased competition. Although Safeway insisted this wasn't leading to a closure of the entire store, everybody including the Village Center's Owners were skeptical.
America's Realty Corp. whose knack seems to be renting out distressed properties at below market rent to low income tenants and doing little to no renovations of the property. In my book, that's a textbook definition of a slumlord.Although Safeway closed in November, America's Realty Corp. had been in talks all year with potential Grocers to replace Safeway because they saw the writing on the wall just like everybody else. I had written previously about how I would like Columbia's and Howard
County's only Whole Foods Market to come to Long Reach to make the Center a regional draw not just for the residents of Locust Park.
Whether America's Realty Corp discussed this possibility with Whole Foods is unknown, what is known is that Long Reach, for now at least won't suffer a fate like Wilde Lake. A new Grocer is lined up to replace Safeway, but in classic slumlord fashion it's an independently owned one. Without further ado, I give "The Family Market" no the above image has not been air brushed or otherwise doctored that is the sign that one sees while driving past the Village Center, I'd park the car but not to buy anything, just gawk at what passes for an Anchor Tenant nowadays.
The Family Market is said to be "upscale" but given that it's meant to cater to the population immediately surrounding it rather than the Village as a Whole I find that hard to believe. Still, in addition to Hispanic and Asian Foods there will be a Cafe with Wi-Fi access and Residents are excited to see a replacement to the troubled Safeway.
The past couple of years have not been kind to Long Reach, in addition to the Safeway, the Village Center has lost Dog House Pub, Dominos Pizza, State Employees Credit Union, and Rave Day Spa. The news of The Family Market's arrival has brought new signed leases to the Village
Center including Subway, a Hair Salon, a Caribbean Restaurant, and Long Reach Pizza which also serves Indian Food (pictured below.)
All and all this appears to be a solution to the woes Long Reach Village Center has been suffering. This may help in the short term but I don't believe this to be a viable long term solution for Long Reach. I believe that like the collections of stores that were there with the Safeway, the Family Market will continue in the tradition of only drawing patrons from Locust Park, the distressed Neighborhood surrounding the Village Center rather a broader clientele this new roster of tenants will suffer a fate similar to Safeway in a few years.
So what's the long term solution? Obviously it would be to find a roster of tenants that serves the entire Village of Long Reach and beyond starting with a strong Anchor Tenant. That's a simple solution to a not so simple problem. Notice I've said repeatedly that the area directly surrounding the Village Center is distressed? Regardless of the condition of the Village Center, patrons are scared due to the crime and blight that holds back the entire Locust Park Neighborhood.
Lately the County has been spearheading efforts to redevelop blighted Neighborhoods such as Guilford Gardens, Hilltop, and Ellicott Terrace into amenity filled modern mixed income Neighborhoods. Granted these developments are County Owned but a similar campaign should start in Locust Park to modernize the Neighborhood and diversify its Residents. The worst offenders in Long Reach are Lazy Hollow Apartments, Sierra Woods, Long Reach Knolls, Columbia Landing, and Heatherstone Town Homes. There are others throughout Locust Park that are in need of redevelopment as well but these need it the most.
As Residential redevelopment flanks the Locust Park Neighborhood, the desirability of the Village Center to new Merchants and Patrons outside Locust Park will go up. Perhaps the long term answer to Long Reach Village Center isn't the Center itself but the residences surrounding it.


Anonymous said...

Family Market seems to be doing well, best I can judge. I'm no authority; it just seems busy at customary shopping hours. Good deals on soy milk, tofu, much produce.

Anonymous said...

Family Market would be better off selling fresh dime bags and bargain handjobs in the back (ya know, in the dimly lit region where frozen foods once dwelled).