August 26, 2009

The South and Bellflower shopping center saga continues

As we have reported previously the ongoing "former Vons" saga at South and Bellflower lingers on for what seems like an eternity. Just getting the parking lot fixed took over a year. They were finished in August 2009. [read our update to this story here]

Vons/Pavillions is owned by the lovely Safeway people headquartered in Oakland CA. When the current owner of the properly bought it many years ago Vons had a very long term and cheap lease on the building it vacated in 1998. They did not want to let go of the lease for fear that another grocery store would move in there and heaven forbid "compete" with the Pavillions over at South and Woodruff (which has the worst prices of any grocery store in the area thanks to union and other issues...but that's another column). Clearly the Fresh and Easy has not been any competition. We are still banking on that operation to fold up as the novelty has worn off.

The real problems began when the current landlord (Lings Property Management..located in LA) tried to buy Vons lease interest out. Of course Von's wanted to make sure that a Trader Joes market or some other savvy competitor cannot get in that spot. This created two problems. First it harms Lakewood shoppers who have a lack of real shopping choice for groceries (as most cities in the this area, especially Long Beach, backed the unions and disallowed Wal Mart grocery stores). Secondly it reduces the chances of leasing that entire former Vons store due to its sheer size. But the city apparently refused or failed to intervene on behalf of the city residents and encourage Von's (Safeway) to drop that requirement and so there you have it. No competitive food stores in that center for years to come thanks to heavy handed action by Safeway. Quite frankly we feel that is appalling and only hurts residents.

So as it stands now the former Von's store will be subdivided into three equally divided store units. More doors and glass will be added to the front. The building is essentially gutted inside now. As of Sept. 15, 2009 it is supposed to be ready for the build out of the first of three new tenants.

The first will be "Dollar Tree" And of course they will sell little if any "food items" at the store thanks the our pals over at Safeway. It is not clear on who the other two tenants will be but given the glut of commercial space in Lakewood we are not optimistic that it will be leased quickly (especially given the site had had for lease signs up for about 3 actually rotted and fell over!) We are also not at all impressed with Lakewood's very shallow and transparent redevelopment efforts which don't seem to be getting much bang for the tax dollar. Also the city seems to focus all their attention on the mall and second or third tier shopping centers like the one at Bellflower and South and Palo Verde and South languish with years of vacancies and decay. We all know where that leads.

Dollar Tree is one of a number of large chains that appears to be doing well in this 12% unemployment economy.

Here are Dollar Tree's current local stores:

6426 E. Spring St. Long Beach, CA 90815

Norwalk Town Center 13913 Pioneer Blvd Norwalk, CA 90650

8111 E Wardlow Road Long Beach, CA 90808

In related news, in the same shopping center the Hanalei restaurant has reopened after being closed for about a year. No idea what the problem was but its good to see businesses operating as opposed to empty buildings. We know thats not good for anyone.

We also hear that the Movietime Video rental store in the same shopping center is supposed to be subdivided and that a 7-11 will go in on the Bellflower Blvd side. We will believe that when we see it.

Finally the South and Bellflower site is supposed to get a minor facade upgrade for all stores. That has not yet been defined. But anything would be an improvement over what we have now.

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | | Lakewood, CA
A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™

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