Federal Loans Offered Shops Affected by Methane Blast

Times Staff Writer

A federal program offering low-interest loans of up to $500,000 was announced Wednesday for eligible Fairfax-area businesses that suffered losses because of the March 24 methane explosion that destroyed a clothing store and injured at least 20 people.

Mayor Tom Bradley and Hawley Smith, head of the Los Angeles office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, explained the program at a City Hall news conference in the wake of a municipal survey showing that business was off at least 10% for most of the 160 shops in the weeks after the blast in the 6200 block of West 3rd Street.

Shops most likely to take advantage of the 4% loans--to be paid back in seven years--are establishments that were not insured against losses because of disasters, such as the explosion that shattered the Ross Dress for Less discount clothing store, Smith said.

Exact figures on the total damages in the area still were not available Wednesday, but officials with the mayor’s small business assistance office estimated that most of the businesses lost an average of nearly $5,000.


Although most of the affected shops reopened four days after the incident, business continues to be slow, especially for those on the south side of 3rd Street in the Park La Brea and Town and Country shopping centers.

“It’s just not like before,” said Felice Marciano, co-owner of a children’s clothing shop a few doors away from the Ross store. She declined to estimate the shop’s continuing losses.

Beginning Monday, Smith said, applications for the loans can be obtained on the second floor of the National Bank of California building, 145 S. Fairfax Ave.

Meanwhile, David Goldman, a spokesman for the Ross clothing store chain, said plans are under way to rebuild the company’s outlet at 3rd Street and Ogden Drive. Reopening is scheduled for August, he said.