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UNIVERSITY PARK : Council Gives OK to New Supermarket


After nearly nine years of delays and negotiations, plans for a full-service supermarket in a neighborhood near USC moved closer to reality last week.

The City Council gave approval for Food 4 Less Supermarkets Inc. and Bakewell Development to build an Alpha Beta supermarket at Adams Boulevard and Vermont Avenue on a site partly owned by the city.

The council's action gave the city Community Redevelopment Agency the go-ahead to start negotiations with Food 4 Less and a private company owned by Brotherhood Crusade President Danny Bakewell to develop a plan within 90 days for a shopping center that includes the market.

"This gives us the green light to negotiate such things as how much money will each side spend, how large will the market be and what other shops will be there," said Roy Willis, the redevelopment agency's director of operations.

The group must also determine what will be done with several historic homes on the five-acre site. The agency hopes to relocate them nearby and convert them into low- to moderate-income housing for the elderly and handicapped, Willis said.

Once the negotiations are completed, "We can began kicking up dust," Willis said. Construction could take a year, he said.

Several factors contributed to the project's delay. Community residents lobbied for a full-service market rather than a warehouse-style store, and preservationists and the redevelopment agency argued over the fate of the houses.

Willis credits Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose 8th District encompasses the area, with negotiating with Food 4 Less to get a full-service market.

Ridley-Thomas said, "This is long overdue. The community has been waiting a long time, but will finally receive a first-class market."

Earlier, the redevelopment agency indicated that the market is expected to be between 40,000 and 45,000 square feet.

Members of the Southern California Organizing Committee (SCOC), which had been working for years to get a market in the area--sometimes behind the scenes and on other occasions mobilizing large rallies and noisy confrontations with public officials--rejoiced over the decision.

"The announcement that it's going forward is very good news," said Sister Diane Donoghue, an SCOC member. "All along we wanted to do everything we could to get it built."

Orinio Opinaldo, a member of the St. Agnes Church SCOC market team, said committee members will meet with Food 4 Less executives Monday to talk about developing a partnership agreement with the company to provide discounts, training programs and jobs for people in the neighborhood around the planned market.

"It feels great," Opinaldo said. "Everybody wants to celebrate."

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