MAYWOOD — When a city redevelopment project last year took the building at Atlantic Boulevard and Slauson Avenue, where the United Surplus Store had operated for 36 years, the store moved half a block away on Slauson.
"We wanted to stay in the neighborhood close to old customers," said John Volz, store manager.
But Volz finds that he may have to move again, since United Surplus sits in the middle of an area the city now wants to redevelop for a shopping center.
The surplus store would not be the only business affected. Fifteen other stores, about 24 homes, several apartment buildings and multifamily dwelling units, and the Praise Chapel on 58th Street also sit on two city blocks that have been targeted for the redevelopment project.
The city will hold a hearing at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on amending its redevelopment plan to include the entire two-block area from Atlantic Boulevard to Pine Avenue between Slauson and 57th Street. The current redevelopment plan takes in most of the commercial and residential properties that line Slauson and Atlantic, the two busiest streets in the square-mile city.
City officials say that the amendment would make it easier for the city to assemble parcels for a developer to build a proposed shopping center in the two-block area. The site is across the street from the city's first shopping strip, the Maywood Town Center, which has several stores and restaurants, including a Boy's Market and Thrifty drug store.
'Last Real Big Project'
"This will be the last real big project in Maywood," said Ron Lindsey, director of building and planning, who added that the city will benefit from increased sales and property taxes.
"We want to put different uses in there. We don't want the (new) center to be in direct competition with the Town Center," Lindsey said. The city would like to lure larger clothing and appliance stores to anchor the proposed eight-acre center, he said.
He said that no definite plans have been made with major store chains, although a few developers have expressed interest. The city plans to apply for a federal Urban Development Action Grant to help construct the center.
Within the last two years, rapid development has characterized the corner of Slauson and Atlantic.
After the Town Center was built, plans got under way to build a mini-shopping mall on the northeast corner. The mall--partially completed, with a Wendy's restaurant on the corner--replaced the surplus store, two bars and several apartment units. The most recent project will be located on the northwest corner.
"It's the main intersection in the city. We want to dress that up and expand from there," Mayor Thomas Engle said.
Pessimism at First
Maywood's first project, the Town Center, took three years to complete and cost $7 million. City officials, who were at first pessimistic about the success of the center, predicted that it would bring in between $40,000 and $60,000 in increased sales tax, Lindsey said.
Instead, the center brought in almost $80,000 its first year and has spurred developer interest in surrounding corners of the Atlantic-Slauson intersection.
"We want to add on to what's already established," Engle said, noting that he would like residents "to be able to shop in our own town. On a smaller scale, of course."
If plans for a shopping center on the entire eight acres falls through, Lindsey said the city still plans to "do something" on the corner.
About 100 households--out of an estimated 7,700 in the city--could be displaced, twice as many as those displaced for the Town Center site, Lindsey said.
Engle said there are preliminary plans to build a low-income senior citizen housing complex and possibly some housing tracts for low-income residents in this city, where the median household income is $16,691.
Decades of Decline
But he sees the redevelopment plan as good for the city, especially since Maywood suffered a 20-year economic decline in the 1960s and 1970s.
"We feel pretty good about" the development successes, Engle said. "The proof of the pudding is that residents are using what has been built."
Lindsey said the city attempted to include the two-block area in its redevelopment plan last year, but dropped those plans to concentrate on the northeast corner, where the mini-shopping mall is now under construction. The plan's amendment would pick up where the city last left off, he said.
Volz said he doesn't know what the surplus store will do if it has to move again. One option is to move into the shopping center once it is completed.
"I don't want to have to move again, but we may have to," Volz said, adding that the store's lease is not up for another year and a half. "We still like the neighborhood. We still would like to stay."