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HUNTINGTON BEACH : Swap Meet Proposal Rejected by Council

August 03, 1994|DEBRA CANO

The City Council this week scrapped a proposal for an indoor swap meet in a vacant industrial building after hearing opposition from nearby businesses.

"The fact is the majority of the neighborhood is against it," said Mayor Linda Moulton Patterson, who opposed the project.

The council voted 4 to 2 Monday against the proposal to establish a swap meet with 325 vendor spaces in a 212,500-square-foot industrial building at 5555 McFadden Ave.

Some nearby business owners favored the swap meet. But opponents, who believe that the property should remain an industrial use, included other area tenants and property owners as well as officials from Huntington Beach Mall.

Patricia Rogers-Laude, marketing director for the mall, said that swap meet vendors would have a devastating effect on local business and would siphon off existing sales in the city. Rogers-Laude also charged that established retailers "would be dealt an economic blow by unfair competition."

Councilman Ralph Bauer had filed an appeal of the Planning Commission's denial of the project. Bauer and Councilman Earle Robitaille cast votes in favor of the swap meet. Councilman Jim Silva abstained because of a possible conflict of interest because he rents an office next to the proposed project site.

Bauer said he favored the swap meet idea because it would recycle a vacant industrial building into a tax-generating business that would stimulate retail business in the city. The swap meet would have generated about $200,000 a year in revenue to the city.

Frazer Tremblay, who operates swap meets in three other cities in the United States and Canada, said he plans to file a lawsuit against the city for his losses in attempting to gain city approval for the project.

Tremblay said he has invested about $50,000.

Jim Connors, group vice president of Masco Corp., which owns the building, said the company has been trying to find a tenant for the last four years.

"We've tried everything to lease it or sell it, but there have been no legitimate offers," Connors said. "I'm disappointed at the shortsighted approach of several of the council members."

Connors said the company has endured a several-million-dollar loss in not being able to lease the building.

Connors predicted that without the swap meet as a tenant, "the building will sit vacant for the next five to 10 years."

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