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VALLEY FOCUS | Studio City

Board OKs 24-Hour Grocery, Pharmacy

October 07, 1998|MICHAEL BAKER

The city's Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday reversed a zoning administrator's decision to limit the operating hours of a proposed Ralphs grocery and Rite Aid pharmacy planned for the site of the now-closed Racquet Centre.

On a 5-0 vote, the board granted property owner VDA Property Co.'s appeal, asking for the reversal of Associate zoning administrator Leonard S. Levine's May decision to limit operating hours to between 6 a.m. and midnight.

Also Tuesday, VDA dropped its appeal of Levine's ruling to hold further hearings on liquor licenses for two restaurants proposed for the Ventura Boulevard site. No date has been set for those hearings.

In order to assure Ralphs will actually participate in the project, the grocery chain needs to have the option of operating 24 hours a day, said Tom Von Der Ahe, managing partner of VDA Property. He said Rite Aid is the leading candidate to operate the drugstore. "They feel that they want the option," Von Der Ahe said. "If they back out, I'm not sure if we can get another market to replace them."

If Ralphs can't operate 24 hours a day, the project might never be built, representatives for the developer cautioned.

"The lack of a 24-hour market and drugstore is a deal-breaker," said Pauline Amond, a legislative advocate for VDA. "It's common practice in today's society to have markets and drugstores open 24 hours."

Although not happy with the decision on hours, area residents at the meeting were pleased they would get a chance to comment at further public hearings on the liquor licenses. Some area residents oppose the liquor permits because VDA has not yet named who would operate the restaurants.

"We have no idea what type of restaurant is going to be there," said Tony Lucente, president of the Studio City Residents Assn. "You need an opportunity to evaluate the specifics of any type of use."

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