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Community News: South

Shopping Center Rings Up Cheers


Residents and politicians joined together to praise the groundbreaking of a new commercial plaza at Vermont Avenue that will include a Smart & Final warehouse grocery.

"I am thrilled that it's here," said Claudia Noonan, a resident and member of the 8th City Council District's community empowerment task force. "There is a big need and demand for bulk discount grocery shopping and Smart & Final provides that with other benefits. It provides a safe and clean facility."

The store is expected to open in July at a cost of about $1 million, said Leanne Reynolds, spokeswoman for Smart & Final. About a dozen jobs will be created by the warehouse-style store.

The need for large grocery stores has long been expressed in this community.

"You won't be disappointed. We're ready to shop here," said Brian Eklund, pastor at St. Mark's Lutheran Church. "Smart & Final hires from the community and that's what we need."

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the 8th District, heralded the arrival of the plaza, which will be built on the site of a liquor store destroyed during the 1992 riots. "It signals the continued investment of the institutional participants," said Ridley-Thomas at Monday's groundbreaking ceremony at 3607 Vermont Ave. "If we don't want the number of liquor stores to run down our neighborhoods, we've got to build stores."

This is Smart & Final's third store to be built in urban areas affected by the riots. The company has 45 stores in Los Angeles County.

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