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SOUTH-CENTRAL : Agency OKs Deal for Supermarket

July 04, 1993|LEE HARRIS

After nearly nine years of frustrating delays, residents were encouraged this week when the city Community Redevelopment Agency gave approval to Food 4 Less Supermarkets Inc. and Bakewell Development to build an Alpha Beta supermarket at Adams Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.

"Despite all that has gone on, the bottom line is: The community is finally going to get a market," said Mike Thomson, chairman of the Hoover Project Area Committee, a watchdog group that monitors the agency in the community.

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said he was pleased that approval had finally been given.

"This has taken too long to get a project done. But some progress has been made with this approval. The people will get a first-class market," Ridley-Thomas said.

The agency's seven-member board of directors Thursday granted Food 4 Less and Brotherhood Crusade President Danny Bakewell exclusive negotiating rights for the $9-million project. Under the proposal, Bakewell Development, Bakewell's private company, and Food 4 Less have 90 days to come up with a plan to develop a shopping center on the parcel, which is about five acres. The City Council must give final approval to the agency's action.

Orinio Opinaldo, a neighborhood activist, hailed the action as a victory for residents, but said he hoped it would take a shorter time to build the market than it took to get approval: "All we wanted was a quality market. It doesn't matter who builds it or which minority contractor is involved."

He and other longtime residents have blamed Ridley-Thomas for failing to speed construction of the market. Ridley-Thomas helped arrange for the relocation of a historical house near the site and was credited by the development agency for getting the project rolling.

He deflected the criticism that he had contributed to the delay.

"It is understandable that the people are impatient. I'm impatient too, but it is important to be constructive or we will not get what we want." Said Roy Willis, the redevelopment agency's director of operations: "This has been a long time in the making. The need (for) this is just drastic."

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