For the past several weeks, rumors have been circulating in and around Olney regarding the closing of Shopper’s Food Warehouse in the Olney Village Center.
Store employees, as well as officials at its corporate headquarters, say the rumors are not true.
“Shoppers appreciates all of its customers in Olney Village, and we want to reinforce that we have no plans or desire to close this store,” said Colleen Matijasick, Shopper’s corporate communications manager.
Steve Krupinski is the director of Leasing, Retail for Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, the company that owns the shopping center. He also said he cannot substantiate the rumors and is not sure what the catalyst is.
“Currently there is not a contractual commitment to replace Shopper’s Food Warehouse,” he said.
However, Krupinski said he always is evaluating their properties for potential improvements, and he has had discussions with many national retailers.
“The Olney Village Center is a great market, and a lot of national retailers would love to be in there,” he said. “We love Olney, and we’re happy to purchase the center because it is an outstanding market and a great demographic.”
Rumors specifically mentioned that since the adjacent beer and wine store recently had closed, Shoppers and possibly the dry cleaners would close to make room for a Target.
“The fact that Olney Beer and Fine Wine closed had nothing to do with any new potential retailer coming into the shopping center,” Krupinski said.
Helene Rosenheim, chair of the Olney Town Center Advisory Committee, said she is aware of the rumors, and her committee is looking into the issue.
“Clearly, a big box store is not appropriate in Olney,” she said. “Olney was never envisioned to be a regional shopping area; the commercial development was designed to support the local community.”
The Olney Town Center was zoned Mixed-Use Town Center in the 2005 Master Plan. Current zoning does not allow for big box-style stores because there is a zoning limit of 40,000 square feet for any commercial establishment other than grocery stores.
Krupinski, however, said “the zoning allows us the flexibility to do what we need to do.”
The county currently is in the process of rewriting its zoning code, and the existing Mixed-Use Town Center zone will be replaced with the new Commercial-Residential zone.
Rosenheim said county officials are scheduled to offer a presentation on the new zoning changes at the Olney Town Center Advisory Committee’s May 28 meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Buffington Re/Max building, 3300 Olney-Sandy Spring Road. The public is invited to attend.