Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Long Reach: A New Addition to the Family

Well color me purple with embarrassment. My post saying that the addition of the Family Market to Long Reach Village Center was a mistake was just plain wrong and arrogant. That should teach me to open my mouth and judge a Business before it even opens. Well my now that the Family Market has opened and I have paid a few visits to it, I must confess that I'm flip-flopping my opinion on it. That's right I'm the Mitt Romney of Bloggers at least when it comes to the Family Market but allow me to explain.
Ever since I started blogging and perhaps even before I knew that the Safeway at Long Reach was in no way in it for the long haul. Being so certain of this, I began looking for new Grocery Chains to replace Safeway, freshen the smaller tenant roster, renovate the Center, and redevelop the Neighborhood at large. First I wanted Wegmans to come to Long Reach instead of Snowden. Then I wanted Whole Foods when it become clear that the Village Center is far too small to hold a mega Grocer like Wegmans. I was and still am a proponent of large scale redevelopment around the Village Center and renovating the Center itself.
I actually found out that Safeway was closing and that the Family Market was its successor at exactly the same time. Seeing that such a Business wouldn't be enough to bring in long term change to Long Reach that I had championing for so many years I thought that it would fail. One thing I didn't account for was how the Market from Long Reach and beyond would react for that I had to wait until the Family Market Opened, so wait I did.
Now that the Family Market has been open for a few weeks I can begin to evaluate it from a more practical prospective. It appears that the Family Market can do what Safeway couldn't do; bring people back to the Village Center. The Parking Lots is much fuller now that the Family Market has opened and an more diverse array of Shoppers now flank the Center. Long Reach has become a draw to outside Residents not just those who live right by it as evidenced by the full parking lot.
Now that Long Reach has found a niche in the Grocery sector, lets once again revamp the tenant roster. At the very least, lets replace floor plan sign from Safeway to the Family Market and get rid of Domino's and replace it with Long Reach Pizza and Indian Food. Given Long Reach's new found viability, I think the smaller merchants could upgraded.
Delitown is without a doubt the worst business to ever come to a Village Center past or present. What I envision for Long Reach is a concept of more chains, but those that have yet to expand into Howard County to make the Center more "destination Retail" rather than "convenience Retail" that it suffered during the final years of Safeway. So Delitown is gone and replacing it would be a Sonic. We see commercials for Sonic all the time but the closest one is in Randallstown and it does a great Business, I think Long Reach will benefit greatly from a Sonic.

Now hopefully somebody can help me clear up some confusion I have been experiencing. Since July of last year I have seen "coming soon" signs for a Caribbean Restaurant that's slated to replace the Dog House Pub & Grill. I don't know of any other Caribbean Restaurants in the area so I think it would be a perfect fit if marketed properly. What confuses me is that the coming soon sign is gone and there is no sign where the permanent sign should be. I mean it's March now, it shouldn't take that long for a Restaurant to open and if it's taking that long there should be still a coming soon sign. Is this Restaurant a reality or have plans been scrapped? If they have indeed been scrapped I'm thinking Long Reach should try for a Buffalo Wild Wings. The closest one is in Arundel Mills and it's high time that Columbia and Howard County get one too.

The Dollar Store, another foe of mine should be a Walgreens or a Rite Aid. This very space once played host to a CVS but left to build a new store along Route 108 with a drive thru Pharmacy. Now why another Pharmacy? Well, the Family Market doesn't have and also it doesn't have much in the way of basic staples like Milk, Eggs, and Bread. The new Wilde Lake Village Center when completed will have a Pharmacy like this to complement David's which has always been similar to the Family Market. This new Pharmacy in Long Reach would be a equipped with a drive thru lane behind it.
Another type of Business I can't stand is Beauty Supply stores. I find them very low class and in the case of the one in Long Reach, it has branched to provide more low class "services" like check cashing and burner cell phones. Pretty soon this place will employ a Bail Bondsman. In its place should be a Hair Salon to complement Community Cutz. It should cater to the hair of all ethnic group and also provide tanning beds.
Liberty Tax Service also annoys me a great deal. I think a Starbucks (yes a Starbucks) should replace it. Starbucks like it or lump it is a draw anywhere and everywhere. Given this spot's location half facing the parking lot and the other half facing the Courtyard this space is crucial that it draw people into the Courtyard to entice people to patronize Businesses with less visibility. Next on my list of wrong Businesses for Long Reach is the Laundromat. I think Chick' N Friends should expand into that space. Chick' N Friends has proven to be a regional draw with superb write ups from every food critic in the area I think it's time Chick 'N Friends take it to a new level from running as simply a carry out Business to at least the option to sit down at a table and eat in. Perhaps one day this could be an order via wait staff Business.

Like Chick 'N Friends, Richburn Liquors is a diamond in the rough. Its exterior facade deeply masks the fact that it has a very wide selection of Beers and Wines that rivals the upscale the Perfect Pour. It may be time for a massive renovation inside and out and change the name to something along the lines of Richburn Fine Wines and Beers.
Since Blockbuster closed several years ago two Day Spas operated out of this space. Obviously they have both closed. I would love to see Long Reach play host to another Day Spa but I don't see that being very feasible unless there's redevelopment around the Center. For now I'm thinking a Tuesday Morning.
This space was once a First Union Bank, then vacant for several years and then got a SECU (State Employees Credit Union) which in turn opened up on Snowden where the Krispy Kreme was. Since this area is filled with Banks, the only one I can't think of as having a branch nearby is Bank of America, so that's the Bank that should occupy this space.Now that the Family Market has opened and is proving to be a major player in the Grocery scene, it's time for Long Reach to step up its game. That includes a full renovation of the Family Market to get rid of all Safeway decor and a renovation of the whole Village Center to make it once again the crown & jewel of the Village as a whole. Long Reach, you've been thrown a life line so don't screw it up!


Gayadnu Sesom said...

I like your vision, no matter how ambitious it is. I also hope for some improvements to the center but I think that LRVC will morph into a Little Asia in the future. I envision something like the Eden Center in Seven Corners, VA.

Anonymous said...

I like some of your ideas, but I find your comment about the beauty supply store very insulting. The fact of the matter is most people who are not African-American or of African descent can walk into any grocery store, pharmacy etc. and buy products that will work with their hair. Black hair doesn't work like that and it has different needs. It requires a greater amount of moisture than most other hair types. And the sections that focus on that need in most stories is very small. So something like a beauty supply store is needed, vitally. By both upper, middle, and lower class people of African descent.

You may be used to seeing these stores in places you deem as lower class like sections in Baltimore. But those places also have a higher amount of people of African decent who need those things that are not available in at the Walgreen or at least no available in the same variety. In many chain grocery stores there is an entire row devoted to hair care. There is usually a shelf for African-American hair.

Also, there has to be a way to integrate new tenants of Columbia into the vision of Jim Rouse without immediate writing people off as the criminal element and saying that they don't belong there. Columbia was built to be a multi-racial, multi-income community where everyone had the ability to live in a nice area, have nice school and have nice amenities.

Jim Rouse built Columbia so that people of all races and all income levels could have access to quality and a good quality life was not just the sole privilege of those who could afford it.

I don't think what we can make Columbia as good as it can be just by making those who come from Baltimore and other "low class" places unwelcome. I think we do it by showing them what our community is really all about and showing them the values of community, cooperation and equality that Columbia was built on.

- Returning Long Reach High School grad of 2004