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Market Planned for Blighted Area in San Fernando

Times Staff Writer

Plans are under way to develop a blighted, mostly vacant section of the San Fernando barrio into a Latino-oriented supermarket shopping plaza.

Vons supermarket officials and a private developer have approached the city’s redevelopment agency to build one of the company’s Tianguis supermarkets on the site. Tianguis stores are known for their festive street-fair design, with booths featuring Mexican products such as handmade tortillas and fresh sausages, Vons spokeswoman Vickie Sanders said.

With that offer in mind, the San Fernando City Council has taken preliminary steps to acquire two city blocks for the project, which would be the first revitalization effort in the recently approved barrio redevelopment project area.

“Tianguis,” which is the Aztec name for “marketplace,” would be a “terrific anchor tenant” for the San Fernando Mall area, which is undergoing a face lift with street and landscaping improvements, City Administrator Donald E. Penman said.

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The area’s heavily Latino population and the need for another supermarket made the San Fernando area a prime location, Sanders said. Other Tianguis stores are in Montebello, El Monte and Cudahy.

The City Council approved a preliminary plan Monday that calls for “attracting as large a single use as possible for the site.” The parcel is bounded by San Fernando Mission Boulevard and Pico, Kalisher and Celis streets.

No homes are in the area. A boarded up former Safeway market and adjacent parking lot occupy most of the land. Also on the property are Mission College offices and a beauty salon.

Penman said it is the city’s intent to use eminent domain as a last resort in land acquisitions. He said the city hopes a project developer will be able to negotiate outright with the 10 property owners in the 2-block area.

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The city has the authority to acquire land through eminent domain for redevelopment purposes and force property owners to sell it at market value. The property can then be sold to a developer at a discount so new construction can revitalize an otherwise blighted area.

The council also moved to hire appraisers and relocation specialists to begin researching land acquisition issues.

City officials said they do not know if the full two blocks will be needed. If the Mission College space is needed, it will mean relocation of about 15,000 square feet of student offices and classrooms.

Mission College is already scheduled to move to a new campus in Sylmar in late 1990.

Although the city has not given final approval to a developer, both Vons and city officials have been negotiating with Alexander Haagen Co., the company that developed the former San Fernando Airport land into a shopping center.


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