Business Groups Support Proposed Chinatown Walmart
The Chinatown Business Improvement District, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and stakeholders held a news conference Thursday afternoon to state their support for the construction of a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chinatown.
They joined other supportive business groups who have worked to promote the store's development. On Wednesday, they voiced their opposition to Councilman Ed Reyes' efforts to stop the development of the scaled-down store.
The market would consist of a 33,000-square-foot store in an already existing building that houses senior citizen apartments on the corner of Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues.
Councilman Reyes, however, introduced a motion that is scheduled to be heard by the City Council on Friday. The motion will propose the banning of retail chains from Chinatown that have standardized facades, decor, signage, or a trademark or servicemark.
If the motion is approved it would lead to the creation of an ordinance that would deny any permits for "formula retail uses."
Although business groups in support of the Walmart Neighborhood Market interpreted this motion as an effort to block the development of the store, Reyes denied that that was his intention since the store already possesses the required entitlements and since construction is scheduled to begin in the summer.
Reyes said he intends for the motion to bring attention to a public safety issue at the future site of the market, which is across from the Ramon C. Cortines School for Visual and Performing Arts. His concern, he stated, was that pedestrian traffic would increase too heavily and rapidly and that the sidewalk would not be able to accommodate the increase.
Business groups in opposition to the ordinance said that if it were implemented it would wrongfully restrict economic development in Chinatown.
In a statement released by Gary Toebben, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, he said, "this motion makes a mockery of the established zoning laws in our community and treats Chinatown as a second-class neighborhood not entitled to enjoy the same stores as any other neighborhoods in the city."
In the same statement, George Yu, executive director of the Chinatown Business Improvement District, added that Reyes ignores "community members who live here and overwhelmingly support this Wal-Mart."