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Two-Way Street : Firms Facing Relocation Fight Alhambra's Plans to Allow Car Dealership

September 13, 1987|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

ALHAMBRA — To make room for a car dealership, the Redevelopment Agency is considering evicting a business owned by a hometown football hero, a church, a pet clinic and a home for the blind.

"A lot of people accuse us of having no feelings," said City Manager Kevin Murphy, "but you have to balance interests."

The church, the home and eight businesses that occupy the south side of Main Street between Poplar Boulevard and Primrose Avenue would be moved to create a 3.2-acre site for the Superior Pontiac dealership now located in Monterey Park.

Dr. L. A. Frics, who runs a veterinary clinic that would be displaced for the expansion of Alhambra's Auto Row, said it is unfair for the city to oust a group of small businesses to attract a larger one.

Support Sought

"I could see it if it was for a park or something of that order," Frics said. But the businesses that face eviction, he said, provide needed services to the community and employ about 100 people, the same number of jobs expected at the dealership.

Frics and other business owners have asked their patrons to join them in urging the City Council to reject the auto dealership proposal at a hearing Monday. The council, acting as the board of the Redevelopment Agency, will meet at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to consider a disposition and development agreement with George B. Frey, who is buying the Superior Pontiac dealership with financial backing from General Motors Corp. The dealership also sells Subarus and GMC trucks.

The proposed agreement calls for the Redevelopment Agency to acquire the land and resell it to Frey at a discount. The city's financial analysts have estimated that it would cost $22 a square foot to buy the property, which would be sold to Frey for $12 a square foot. The loss on the property transaction would be offset by revenue from sales taxes paid by car buyers.

Gain in Taxes Estimated

Officials estimate that the dealership would generate an additional $30,000 in property taxes in 1988-89 and $1 million over the next 25 years above what is now produced by the businesses to be displaced. The city treasury would also pick up an additional $300,000 a year from sales taxes.

The agency would help those displaced find new locations, preferably in Alhambra, and compensate them for their move.

Murphy said some people mistakenly believe "that we're just going to throw people out in the street," but, in fact, the Redevelopment Agency will hire relocation experts to help make the transition. Murphy said the Redevelopment Agency has moved more than 100 businesses over the last 15 years and many have emerged stronger than before.

In addition, Murphy said, owners will receive compensation for any loss of business they suffer as a result of moving.

Michael Martin, deputy executive director of the Redevelopment Agency, said that businesses and homeowners who are forced to relocate face at least an inconvenience, and some uncertainty. In addition, he said, there is no way to compensate them for any "sentimental attachment" to their property.

Leo H. Carroll Jr., 43, who runs a brake shop next to the house where he grew up, said that he inherited the property from his father and received the deed in July only 12 hours before "the city comes along and says they are going to take the land away from me."

Tells of Shattered Plans

Carroll, a 6-foot-6 defensive end who played football at Alhambra High School, San Diego State and five years in the National Football League, said he worked with his father in the brake business and was bringing his three sons into the business when his plans were shattered.

"It's destroyed my personal life with stress, worrying about what I'm going to do," he said.

Bill Clark, who bought the auto service business next to Carroll's brake shop in May, said the facilities cannot be easily duplicated elsewhere.

"It's very hard to find a decent location," he said.

Clark said he checked with the Redevelopment Agency before he bought the business and was told there were no plans to acquire the property.

Murphy said the city originally planned to put the auto dealership on the north side of Main Street on property occupied by Progressive Savings & Loan. But the acquisition of that property ran into legal problems, including a dispute between the savings and loan and the property owners over terms of a long-term lease, complicated by the fact that two of the 10 owners had died, tying up matters in probate court. Murphy said the agency began looking for another location after it became clear that the original site could be obtained only through lengthy legal proceedings.

Home to 14 Dealerships

Alhambra has 14 auto dealerships, most of the them along Main Street. The area west of Atlantic Boulevard has been designated as Auto Row, and with the help of the Redevelopment Agency, several car dealerships are expanding and new dealerships are being created for Chrysler and Acura automobiles.

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