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A new retail development may be coming soon to the northwest corner of 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue under a proposal by the A.F. Gilmore Company, the owner of the Original Farmers Market. The project would span a vacant lot and the site of some current businesses.
The proposal calls for 24,000 square foot retail center anchored by a larger building housing a specialty grocer or pharmacy, and four smaller retail spaces, one of which would likely be a restaurant or pub, according to Mark Panatier, vice president of the A.F. Gilmore Company. The project would also include a surface parking lot on 3rd Street with 113 spaces.
Panatier said the project is something the company has wanted to do for several years, and it is not an expansion of the Farmers Market. The project would replace the vacant lot, which is now used as a pumpkin patch during Halloween and as a Christmas tree lot, as well as Mordigan Nurseries and a building on Fairfax Avenue north of 3rd Street that currently houses a handful of small shops. No tenants have been selected for the new retail center. Panatier said the corner is a great location for the development, which will front Fairfax Avenue and will provide more shopping and dining options, as well as parking for the area.
“It’s a major intersection in the City of Los Angeles, it’s heavily trafficked and is very visible,” Panatier said. “It is also adjacent to the Farmers Market, and that’s a plus. People in this neighborhood like to walk, and it is a major north/south bus route. We think it is a great location.”
The Mid City West Community Council (MCWCC) reviewed the project on Tuesday, and the board voted unanimously to recommend approval. Jeff Jacobberger, chair of the MCWCC, said the project would improve the pedestrian ambiance along 3rd Street.
“It’s an empty lot that is active only when they are selling pumpkins and Christmas trees, so hopefully it will make it more inviting for people to walk from The Grove or the Farmers Market along Third Street. Architecturally, I think it will add something as well.”
Panatier said the project will be built in the mid-century architectural style, and will include a central plaza and walkway. He added that the A.F. Gilmore Company has owned the land since the 1800s, and it was once an oil drilling site. The reaction to the project was mixed among the owners of businesses that will have to relocate once the project is approved. Mordigan Nurseries has been at the site for the past 11 years after moving from its previous location at the Farmers Market when construction for The Grove began. Mark Giebel, co-owner of Mordigan Nurseries, said the Gilmore Company was up front about their plans, but he doesn’t know where he will move or what the future holds for the nursery.
“After spring we will have a better idea of where we will go and what we will do,” Giebel said. “We will stay here as long as we can, but after that, it’s hard to say.”
Several small storefronts on Fairfax Avenue that will be demolished are currently empty, but a few remain open, including Vintageweave Interiors, a design store. Owner Kathy Delgado said she has also known the shop will have to move, but is not thrilled about the situation.
“I have been here for six years, and I was told at the beginning that inevitably, it would be their undertaking to build here,” Delgado said. “My type of business is not one that lends itself to a mass mall, so I’ll go find another place off the beaten path, probably somewhere on Beverly.”
At Majestic Watch, which has been located on Fairfax Avenue since 1993, co-owner John Berberian said he would likely close shop for good once the project is approved. Berberian said he sold his building to the A.F. Gilmore Company in 2008, and knew his time at the location was limited.
“I don’t feel too good about it, but I have no choice,” Berberian said. “They have to do whatever they have to do with the property. I am not complaining, but I am not going to be in business any more.”
Paul Neuman, a spokesman for Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, said the councilman has not taken a position on the project, and is waiting to get input from the community on whether to offer his support.
Panatier said the A.F. Gilmore Company is currently negotiating the cost and funding for the project and some other final preparations. He said the next step will be a hearing with the planning department, but no date has been set. Panatier added that he hopes construction can begin this fall, with a tentative opening scheduled for the late summer or early fall of 2011.
I am not happy at all about this project. This intersection is already a nightmare because of the traffic in and out of The Grove, the Farmer’s Market and the complex directly across the street from them. The last thing we need is yet another retail development at 3rd & Fairfax adding even more congestion. As a local, I frequented the Farmer’s Market for years, but grew steadily unhappy with the increasing gridlock. Then about three months ago, I went there on my lunch break. It took me 15 minutes just to exit the parking lot! I vowed then to take my business elsewhere until things improved. This doesn’t improve our quality of life, it adds more headaches. Enough is enough!
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I am very excited about the development.
Every time a blighted spot is replaced with flourishing retail and/or mixed-use development project, it improves our quality of life, brings people together, and makes the area more vibrant.
I hope this will be a multi-story complex with retail shops & restaurants on ground floor.