Long Reach Village Center - the shopping hub for Columbia's largest village - has been sold to Perrine & Wheeler Real Estate Investments in Norfolk, Va., company officials said yesterday.
Perrine & Wheeler bought the center from Kimco Realty Corp. for an undisclosed price Feb. 12.
It is the first Maryland property for the shopping center acquisition and management company, which also has real estate in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Robin Hanisch, Perrine & Wheeler's vice president of acquisitions, said the company was attracted to the center because of its anchor tenant, Safeway, and the location.
"It's a great neighborhood," she said.
Kimco, based in New Hyde Park, N.Y., bought the center - along with seven other Columbia village centers - from the Rouse Co. in 2002.
The reason for the Long Reach sale so soon is not clear.
"Kimco constantly evaluates shopping centers for acquisition and sale," Kevin Allen, director of retail and office properties for Kimco, wrote in an e-mail interview.
Columbia's nine village centers - which are an integral part of Rouse's planned community village concept - have faced tough competition in recent years from newer shopping centers with big-box stores.
Dobbin Center, Columbia Crossing and the new Columbia Crossing II are all nearby.
Giant Food opened a store last year off Route 108 on a site formerly occupied by the Palace 9 movie theater, prompting some concerns among Long Reach business owners.
The 102,104-square-foot village center houses a Blockbuster Video, the African Braiding House and the new Columbia Ale House, among other stores. Hanisch said negotiations that could make the center fully leased are in progress.
"I think we would want to make sure that we have tenants that enhance the ones that are there and benefit the neighborhood," she said.
Hanisch said tenants will notice differences under her company's ownership, such as fresh paint and possibly an elevator for the offices on the second floor.
George Martiyan, who owns Parcel Plus in the village center, is optimistic about the new owners.
"I don't have experience with the new people, but I have every reason to believe that as a new landlord, they're not going to neglect the center," he said.
David Hlass, who represents Long Reach on the Columbia Council, viewed the sale as merely a business deal for the center, which underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation in 1998 that more than doubled the size of the grocery store.
"It's always been a good center, very prosperous," he said.
Sarah Uphouse, Long Reach's village manager, said she expects the village board to take a "wait and see" attitude toward Perrine & Wheeler.
"We have not met them or talked to them," she said.
Kimco owns seven of Columbia's nine village centers, as well as the Columbia Crossing and Dobbin Center shopping centers. Giant Food owns Owen Brown Village Center.
Hanisch said her company would be interested in pursuing other shopping centers in Columbia because "it's such a great location."
"We would love the chance to look at [other village centers] if they were up for sale," she said.