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Trader Joe’s nearing nod

May 17, 2010|By Melanie Hicken

CITY HALL — The City Council tonight is expected to introduce an agreement to lease city-owned property in Montrose to Trader Joe’s for a new store.

Under the proposed lease agreement, which would require a City Council vote next week, the grocery chain would build a 14,670-square-foot single-story store at 2448-2468 Honolulu Ave.

The site at the corner of Honolulu and Orangedale avenues was previously home to a Ford dealership, but has been used as a public parking lot across from the Montrose branch library and fire station.

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The lease would end close to two years of talks between the city and the grocery retailer, which already has a store in Glendale and La Crescenta.

Once the lease agreement is approved, the project would make its way through the city’s commissions for development entitlements and permits. Store officials expect a nine- to 12-month construction period once building permits are obtained, according to a city report.

Under the proposed lease, the city would receive $220,000 annually starting next summer.

Stakeholders say the store would serve as an “anchor tenant” for the west end of the Montrose Shopping Park, which has struggled to boost foot traffic in that area for years.

“There are a lot of service-oriented businesses that don’t get exposure because people don’t travel that far,” said Alyce Russell, president of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. “So having someplace like Trader Joe’s at that end will definitely bring in more traffic.”

City Councilman John Drayman in 2007 first proposed using the public lot, which was originally slated for a new library and fire station, to host a new retail tenant. Plans for the new library were then shifted to the old Rockhaven sanitarium and the fire station’s expansion at its current location. Both projects await funding.

City officials also conducted extensive community research, which revealed intense community interest in the grocery store, Drayman said.

“When we went out to the public to ask what they would like to see as the retail anchor, the overwhelming answer again and again was Trader Joe’s,” he said.

The only significant public opposition to the project has come from the owner of Cordon’s Ranch Market, the area’s only independent grocer, who has said the addition of Trader Joe’s less than a mile away could drastically hurt his business.

But residents have long called for another grocery option in the area, which has Cordon’s and Vons, said Emil Tatevosian, deputy director of the city’s Community Redevelopment & Housing department.

The city’s initial negotiating agreement with Trader Joe’s in September led to speculation that the chain would close its La Crescenta location on Foothill Boulevard.

But on Monday, Tatevosian said Trader Joe’s officials have said the new location would not affect its other local stores.

While the Monrovia-based chain has locations in nine states, Drayman said the individual stores make an effort to hire locally and give back to the community.

“It’s very well known that the residents and the businesses of Montrose are very protective of the aura of the district,” Drayman said. “Trader Joe’s is the perfect fit because their business model is very much like a mom-and-pop business.”


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