Trader Joe’s scouting out first South LA store

Trader Joe's | Rebecca

Trader Joe’s | Rebecca

In 1967, the first Trader Joe’s opened in Pasadena. The supermarket chain began selling its organic pretzels and “Two Buck-Chuck” wine among other groceries outside of California in the 1990s and grew to operate more than 400 stores nationwide.

Now, for the first time, Trader Joe’s is coming to South L.A.

The store has committed to opening a location at the forthcoming USC Village, located on Hoover and 31st streets near the Figueroa Corridor, according to USC University Communications.

Many residents who live in the area are rejoicing. [Read more…]

New vision of Slauson Avenue in South Los Angeles

Residents in South Los Angeles gathered together Monday evening to share their fondest memories of being on Slauson Avenue, while proposing a vision of what they see Slauson becoming, at Junior Blind of America’s center.

The meeting, held in partnership with LA Commons and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, was to help shape the development of the Slauson Corridor Revitalization Project, spearheaded by the Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. image

“I don’t want to go to Culver City to get a nice sandwich. I want to go right here, where we are and have a sense of pride in it,” said resident Roy Wheatle.

Everyone at the meeting agreed that they wanted the new Slauson Corridor, between Overhill Drive and Angeles Vista Boulevard, to offer more shopping and outdoor dining experiences, along with a pedestrian friendly atmosphere.

Karly Katona, deputy for sustainability for the office of Mark Ridley-Thomas, said making a livable, walkable community requires the input of its residents.

She said it was essential for those involved in the planning process to receive feedback from residents and local business owners to understand their needs and wants.

Erin Stennis, deputy to Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, added that it would have been impossible for the district to implement changes without feedback from the community. image

“This is a community that has traditionally been engaged,” said Stennis.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said the revitalization is also an effort to “bring value to the land use and space.”

“My role is essentially one to catalyze the process, to attract attention to it and make investments into it with the resources of Los Angeles County,” said Ridley-Thomas.

He added that the project was not a publicly funded project, but one that uses the public’s input to help attract private investors.

“We are teeing this up in a way that is worthy of this environment…I don’t see that to be a pipe dream,” said Ridley-Thomas. “This is going to be an emerging market that will not be ignored.”

A portion of the meeting was dedicated to hearing development plans from student-led teams at USC and UCLA, as part of a real estate challenge organized by the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) and sponsored by Ridley-Thomas.

The challenge is a 6-week case competition where students from both schools are tasked with solving a development issue, such as the Slauson Corridor.

This is the 15th year the challenge has taken place between UCLA and USC tied with 7 wins each, which makes the Slauson project a tie-breaker competition, according to Ridley-Thomas.

The winning team has not been announced, but residents applauded both schools for the research put into their presentation.

Both teams proposed a space that would seamlessly mix dining and retail shops with senior independent living.

USC proposed a two-story parking structure with multiple entrances for residents and visitors.

UCLA had surface level parking citing that many grocery stores preferred it to structured parking due to safety and its ease of access. image

For residents, the most anticipated portion of both presentations was hearing the possibility of specialty retail grocery store, Trader Joe’s, making its home inside the renovated corridor.

USC believed the area had the potential to attract Trader Joe’s.

While UCLA said based on their meetings with the company, it would be difficult and proposed building a Lazy Acres Market, an upscale grocery store chain operated by Bristol Farms, which caused some in the crowd to become upset.

Ridley-Thomas pointed out that it was important for residents to have not one but several choices in where they would like to shop.

The next meeting, discussing the environmental impact report for the Slauson Avenue streetscape, is scheduled to take place on Monday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at Junior Blind of America.