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The McKay’s grocery store on Great Mills Road in Lexington Park will be closing its doors in eight to 12 weeks as its inventory is closed out.

Its 40 employees could be relocated to the McKay’s stores in Hollywood, Leonardtown and Charlotte Hall, said Thomas F. McKay, president of Fairland Market, which owns the McKay’s family grocery stores.

McKay’s has had a grocery store in Lexington Park since 1958, beginning at Tulagi Place. The current 85,000-square-foot store opened in 1995 on Great Mills Road.

McKay said Thursday he is “very saddened” by the announcement the store is closing. “It’s a tough, tough decision and we’ve been wrestling with this decision. This is absolutely the right decision,” he said. “It’s going to allow us to continue to serve the community better” at other store locations.

The McKay’s property on Great Mills Road also has space for smaller retail sites, but none of those are leased right now.

McKay said he is looking to repurpose the commercial space. “We are negotiating with several uses — none of them retail,” he said. With a lot of floor space and high ceilings, it could be attractive to some type of fabrication facility, he said.

Since McKay’s first started serving the Lexington Park community, “chain stores including Safeway, A&P, Grand Union and Foodtown have all vacated Lexington Park. McKay’s and the Navy commissary remain the only two grocery stores in business today that were there 45 years ago. McKay’s store on Great Mills Road represents the last major retail investment to take place within the central business district of Lexington Park over the past 20 years,” McKay said in a statement.

“The food industry today has largely relocated to the California area with stores like Giant and Food Lion, which are owned and controlled by foreign country entities, by large box stores like Walmart and BJ’s and by a never-ending array of chain restaurants, dollar stores and drug stores,” the statement continued.

With the continued march of new businesses north along Route 235 from Lexington Park, “it just really kept people from going back into the central business district” after work, McKay said.

“The McKay family has always had a long-term commitment to Great Mills Road,” said Robin Finnacom, acting director of the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic and Community Development. “The investment they put into that property was very significant. It was more than just groceries.”

Now the only grocery store left in Lexington Park is the Food Lion in St. Mary’s Square.

“But it is very sad to lose McKay’s,” Finnacom said.

In Charlotte Hall, ground was cleared for a new McKay’s grocery. McKay said the project is still in the architectural phase and construction could start later this year or early next year. With sequestration and defense budget cuts, “it’s been a very difficult time since the economy started to turn,” he said. “Things have slowed down and we’ve had to adjust.”

The McKay’s grocery in Wildewood Center in California closed its doors in 2012, where it had been open for 10 years.

jbabcock@somdnews.com