Liz Bobo thinks that Kimco Realty Corporation, the owner of the Wilde Lake Village Center, should be giving the remaining tenants in the beleaguered shopping center a break on their rent. According to this story by Jennifer Broadwater in the Columbia Flier, Liz told a gathering of merchants that she wonders “if Kimco wants this village center to fail. ... I don’t see any kind of an outstretched hand at all to help you guys.”
A noble and populist gesture to be sure but I’m left to wonder who is offering to help Kimco?
Kimco didn’t cause Giant to close its grocery store at Wilde Lake. The loss of the anchor store has certainly had an adverse effect on the profitability of the retail center as other stores followed suit and left the center. Yet even as the cash flow from rent receipts declined, the landlord has continued to maintain the property as it did when it was fully leased. I doubt that their lender has offered to reduce their mortgage payments during this transitional time and I’m certain that the county has not offered to reduce their property taxes either.
It’s easy to demonize a landlord. Liz is trying to make Kimco look like Snidely Whiplash when the company insists on collecting past due rent. The fact of the matter is that Kimco has been trying for four years to come up with a plan to breathe new life into Columbia’s first village center only to be continually thwarted by the insistence of Liz and others like Wilde Lake’s Columbia Council representative, Phil Kirsch, that any new development includes a grocery store. It should be very obvious to anyone who has followed this retail saga that this is simply not going to happen.
Since Liz recently demonstrated her acumen at getting state earmark money for a private homeowners association perhaps she could the same for the merchants at Wilde Lake instead of berating the company that is actually trying to rectify the problem.
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