- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The McKay’s grocery store in the Wildewood shopping center in California will be closing its doors for good within the next few weeks.
The lease runs until the end of October, but “We’ll start a liquidation process for the next four to five weeks,” said Thomas F. McKay, president of Fairland Market, which owns the McKay’s family grocery stores.
While the Wildewood grocery store is closing, a sister store on Hollywood Road will be reopening in October. “We’re sad at one level, but very happy with the facility we’ll be reopening,” McKay said Monday.
The Hollywood store will focus more on prepared foods and has an upgraded liquor license, which allows shoppers to sip wine inside. It has been closed since last year.
“We’re going to relocate as many workers as we can” from Wildewood to the Hollywood store, McKay said.
McKay’s has been in the Wildewood shopping center for 10 years, he said. The family requested a liquor license for that location but it was turned down. That license would have given the store an edge over the multitude of grocery chains in California. “It really limited any chance we had to invest in that facility to make it successful,” he said.
Since McKay’s opened in Wildewood, Walmart expanded its store to include a supermarket, Target starting selling groceries and even Wawa sells groceries. “That has drastically affected the market,” McKay said. “That is an over-stored market. Independent groceries have been on a downward spiral in this country for the past 20 years.”
Those national chain stores are prohibited from selling alcohol in St. Mary’s County, while some of McKay’s grocery stores do have liquor licenses.
The McKay family had planned on a $5 million renovation of the Wildewood store, but that hinged on obtaining a liquor license there, McKay said.
In northern St. Mary’s, the Charlotte Hall McKay’s will be moving into a new building on the other side of Route 5 from its current location.
Grading permits were issued on a 12.6-acre property on the southbound side of Three Notch Road to start work on a development called Charlotte Hall Station.
“It originally was going to be a Safeway,” said Harry Knight, permits coordinator with the St. Mary’s County Department of Land Use and Growth Management.
The prior developer was on the verge of building, but there was a disagreement about traffic improvement and the national economy took a downturn, he said. Since then, “Mr. McKay has bought the project,” Knight said.
The land is actually owned by CMI Properties of Charlotte Hall, but the McKay’s have ownership of the project and have entered into a long-term lease for the land, said part-owner John K. Parlett Jr.
McKay said he hopes to have the new store open in the summer of 2013. Plans are for the current Charlotte Hall grocery location to become a national-brand clothing store, he said, hopefully by the fall or winter of 2013.
Fairland Market, a McKay family corporation, owns the McKay’s Plaza.
The McKays will be responsible for making road improvements at the new location and Charlotte Hall Station will connect into a septic system across the highway that is being converted into a sewage treatment plant.
That plant would be operated by the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission. However, it won’t be available for future use for others.
Charlotte Hall, a designated town center, had its future public sewer project removed by the county commissioners earlier this year.
The Charlotte Hall Station sewer system is “only to handle which is currently planned up there,” said David Elberti, chief engineer for MetCom, “and not intended to handle future growth.”
“Someday MetCom could expand that,” Parlett said, if the county commissioners put back into building plans a public sewer project.
Charlotte Hall Station has approval for seven buildings, with a total square footage of 103,911. One building would be the new McKay’s, one would be a bank and the other five are for retail/sales uses. There are no restaurant uses listed.
The second phase would include a gas station on the property.
McKay called the new store a “natural progression,” as “Charlotte Hall has been one of our best stores for 30 years. The people of northern St. Mary’s have been very good to us.”