The KFC fast-food restaurant in Wilde Lake has closed and been boarded up, shuttering another business in a beleaguered village center.
The shop shut down on Monday, April 23; workers were given a couple of days' advance notice, according to one of a group of employees standing outside of the eatery the next day.
The drive-through menu had been removed from its base and rested in several pieces on the pavement in front of the drive-through window. Letters from the sides of the building also sat on the ground.
What was then called Kentucky Fried Chicken opened on Lynx Lane in the 1990s. The property was sold to Kazi Family LLC in 2000, according to county records.
"The property apparently was auctioned off last month, but we have not been able to determine the new ownership or really confirm any details of the auction," said Kristin Shulder, Wilde Lake's village manager.
Kazi Family LLC could not be reached for comment.
Employees said the KFC's closing was a "business decision," though they did not know specifically why that decision had been made.
KFC is considered part of the Wilde Lake Village Center, though it is not on land owned by Kimco Realty Corp., which owns several buildings that make up the core of the village center.
Wilde Lake was Columbia's first village center, opening in 1967. But it has struggled in the past decade, particularly after the closing of its anchor, Giant Food, in 2006. The center has become increasingly vacant since then.
Kimco is planning to revitalize the center, however, by building a pair of five-story residential buildings that would bring between 220 and 250 apartments there. More construction and renovations are proposed for the center.
Company officials hope to have the first tenants move in by late 2014 or early 2015.