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PlowBoys Market Will Move to Make Room for Project : Business: City officials say the proposed 80,000-square-foot complex will create 250 jobs. Opponents contend that the relocation could hurt nearby businesses.

July 15, 1993|DUKE HELFAND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

HAWAIIAN GARDENS — PlowBoys, the market that has attracted Southern California shoppers to Hawaiian Gardens for more than three decades, will be moved as part of a city plan to redevelop the land.

The City Council, acting as the redevelopment agency board, struck a deal Tuesday with the owner of the Carson Street property where PlowBoys and nine other businesses lease space.

The board agreed to pay $5 million to a corporation run by the Marie Veady family for the land where a Long Beach developer plans to build an 80,000-square-foot commercial center anchored by a Smith's food and drug store. A second parcel housing two additional businesses was purchased last week for $500,000.

The redevelopment board has agreed to split the cost of the project with a company owned by Dr. Irving I. Moscowitz, a Florida resident who has built several medical centers in the Southeast area. The board is expected to give final approval to the agreement on July 20.

City Council members pledged to relocate PlowBoys within four months to a "major commercial building" elsewhere in the city, but they would not disclose a location.

PlowBoys attorney Richard Del Guercio said that relocating the old-fashioned grocery, known for its produce, open-air entrance and sawdust-covered floors, will hurt the business. He said the owners will consider moving outside the city.

PlowBoys supporters said the 35-year-old market helped make a name for the square-mile city. Petitions asking the council to scrap the redevelopment plans included more than 15,000 signatures from customers who listed addresses in Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Torrance and other Southland cities.

Del Guercio also predicted that the Smith's store will hurt business for existing retailers.

"The objective of this redevelopment project is the elimination of competition," Del Guercio said. "There isn't a place in the city of Hawaiian Gardens that is suitable (for PlowBoys) unless it is next to Smith's."

Officials said that moving the market to a choice location with about equal rent might allow it to expand.

"We don't want PlowBoys to go away. We want to accommodate them," said Councilwoman Kathleen M. Navejas. "We want to help PlowBoys and the other businesses to grow."

Businesses next to PlowBoys also would be relocated within four months. They include a shoe store, a thrift shop and two bars.

Navejas said that critics overlook the financial benefits of a new Smith's, including an estimated 250 new jobs and up to $250,000 a year in sales taxes.

The current stores employ about 85 people and generated just $38,000 in sales taxes last year, city officials said.

The redeveloped land also is expected to generate about $75,000 a year in property taxes for the city, compared with about $10,000 now.

A spokesman for Moscowitz's firm, Cerritos Gardens General Hospital Co., said that many residents support the project. The company presented the council with petitions signed by more than 11,000 people who "live, work or visit" the city. More than a dozen residents, all speaking in Spanish, told the council they favor the new development because of the jobs it will create.

"Projects like Smith's will establish a base so that kids and adults will have an opportunity to have a better life," Raul Morales, 36, said.

Smith's spokesman Eric Low said the market chain is negotiating with the developer to open a Smith's at the Hawaiian Gardens site but that no agreement has been signed.

A new market will not hurt existing stores and will help draw additional businesses to the city, he said. "We are not coming in with the expectation of driving out other businesses," Low said.

A Smith's store opened in Lakewood earlier this year and another is expected to open in Cerritos in February, but Low said the area can support three stores.

Project Site

The city of Hawaiian Gardens plans to relocate the popular PlowBoys Market to make way for a commercial complex at the six-acre site surrounding the store.

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