In February, we announced plans to open a 33,000-square-foot Walmart Neighborhood Market on the ground floor of a senior housing complex in downtown Los Angeles, near Chinatown. The store would offer full-service grocery — addressing a well-known local need — and revitalize a decades-old empty building.
This news was met with enthusiasm by those who live and work in the area and with disdain by special interest groups who sustain themselves by opposing economic development efforts that would create jobs and shopping options for residents in this area of downtown. The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) even went so far as to quickly help introduce an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) to temporarily halt the opening of new “formula retailer uses” within a small section of the Chinatown Redevelopment Project area that just happened to include our proposed store location. Put simply, the measure was intended to block Walmart.
On March 23, the City Council adopted the motion, which in turn instructed the Planning Department to draft the ICO.
At the time, the Los Angeles Times called the ICO “unwise and counterproductive” and opposed the proposal. And yesterday, the Planning Commission voted to disapprove the proposed ICO and recommend that it not be adopted by the City Council.
This is good news for the city as it helps chip away at the notion that L.A. is a place that is difficult to do business. More importantly, this is a victory for downtown residents who currently don’t have as many shopping options as those who live in other parts of the city and are increasingly concerned about the negative ripple effects of vacant buildings like crime, blight and decreased foot traffic for nearby businesses.
Many think Walmart can help spark a turnaround.