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Community News: South

WATTS : Rent Break to Offset Losses Considered

October 25, 1992|DUKE HELFAND

The Community Redevelopment Agency is considering a rent relief proposal for 16 small businesses in the Martin Luther King Jr. Shopping Center to help them recover from losses sustained in the spring riots.

Under the plan, small businesses in the center--mom-and-pop stores and those owned by sole proprietors--would be relieved of rent owed for May, June and July, the three months they suffered the worst economic hardship. Businesses that paid rent during that time would be given three months credit. The CRA board is scheduled to consider the proposal Nov. 5.

The total rent for the 16 businesses--which include clothing stores, a hair salon, a real estate office and Pioneer Chicken, Burger King and Baskin-Robbins franchises--is $48,000 per month, according to the CRA. The proposal does not apply to larger businesses in the center and those owned by chains.

"This is the compassionate thing to do," said Roy Willis, a CRA assistant administrator. "We want to do everything in our power to save the shopping center. This will give the small businesses breathing room. Hopefully, it will be enough to keep them from failing."

The proposal was drawn up by the center's developer, the Alexander Haagen Co., in an effort to help the small businesses ease the impact of lost revenues during the past six months. All 25 stores in the shopping center were looted or damaged in the riots.

"These tenants really need this help," said Andy Natker, a Haagen spokesman. "They have invested all their money and taken a great amount of risk. The inner city is a very good place to do business, and we want people to understand that."

Al Jenkins, manager of the CRA's Watts redevelopment project area, said he hopes the rent relief proposal will encourage struggling businesses to continue operating until The Boys Market, one of two shopping center anchor businesses, reopens.

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