7-Eleven? Not in My Back Yard!

By: 
Kirt Ramirez

A real estate developer wants to establish a 7-Eleven at the northwest corner of Redondo Avenue and Third Street in Bluff Heights, but area residents do not want the 24-hour convenience store in their historic district.
 
During a community meeting at Mann Elementary School hosted by Councilwomen Jeannine Pearce and Suzie Price Jan. 26, an emotionally charged audience of about 100 made it clear they do not want a 7-Eleven. Reasons include property value concerns, that it’s too close to Mann Elementary and that the store’s placement could increase traffic, jaywalking and crime.
 
Though the Redondo project falls within Pearce’s Second District, Price’s Third District exists across the street and Price chose to be involved in the matters.
 
The councilwomen were not obligated to host the community forum – which was the second one in recent weeks – but did so as a courtesy to the Bluff and Belmont Heights constituents. They would pass along concerns to planning staff. The developers of Pacific Collective Real Estate Investments also did not have to attend the public forum but wanted to be part of the dialogue.
 
The Planning Commission will officially hold a public hearing in the future but a date has not been set yet.
 
Dave Yanko, managing partner with Pacific Collective, said his firm already signed a lease with 7-Eleven. Yanko said he understands the public’s concerns and that Pacific Collective cares about the community and environment and is a B Corp certified business. The B Corp website states, “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.”
 
He said due to the city code, zoning, parking and the “size of the box,” Pacific Collective decided on a 7-Eleven for one of the vacancies. A Trader Joe’s or mini CVS would not be possible at the location.
Tenant interest and viability also play a part.
 
“We definitely don’t want to have a tenant at the location – because of all the other commitments that we make to the community and as a function to this project – we don’t want to have a tenant come in for two months and then leave immediately and fail,” Yanko said. “It’s very important to us that it is a business that is supported and that the products and services will support the folks that live in the area,” he said.
 
The rather rundown strip mall at 301-305 and 311 Redondo used to house Casey’s Liquor, Beach Health Tree vitamin store and an acupuncture clinic. Yanko said cracks in the asphalt and sidewalk would be fixed and the building’s interior and exterior must be refurbished. Asbestos removal has already taken place, he said.
 
The 7-Eleven will be high-end with a contemporary look. And 7-Elevens tend to carry items according to the tastes of the local community, he said, which might include kombucha teas and organic foods.
 
“We are trying to create a sense of place, so we ascribe to what’s called ‘village-style retail,’” Yanko said. “It’s this asymmetrical design between the shop spaces that allow neighbors to have their own identity and feel like they each have their own place, in addition to the landscape plan and the sleek and modern exterior.” Mural designs and artwork also are considered as part of the plans, he said.
 
Regarding a 24-hour 7-Eleven, Yanko said he believes having the store lit at night will contribute to public safety.
 
However, he did not win the residents over and one resident showed papers containing more than 800 signatures petitioning the 7-Eleven.
 
In addition, Yanko said there are talks to bring a laundromat to the location.
 
“People are upset about it because I believe what other existing laundromats bring to the table in the area,” he said. “The laundromat we are talking about, just to be clear, is essentially; what Walmart is to regular laundries, Nordstrom would be to this laundromat.” The machines would function with debit/credit cards and apps rather than coins. A coin laundry stands two streets away on Fourth Street and Redondo.
 
Some of the residents found potential loopholes in the 7-Eleven aspect of the project and plan to discuss them before the planning commission, which has yet to approve a Conditional Use Permit to allow alcohol sales at 301-311 Redondo, a development services spokeswoman clarified.
 
Property owners within a 750-foot radius of the proposed project should receive notices in the mail with the hearing’s date and details.
 
A resident asked Pacific Collective’s Managing Director Rahul Paliwal if he lives close to a 7-Eleven. He responded yes, within four blocks of one in Santa Monica.
 
The resident asked, “Was it there when you moved in?”
 
“Yes it was,” Paliwal said.
 
“Well then you chose to move into that neighborhood,” the resident retorted. “And I understand as a developer, you’re looking out for your long-term lease and most return on investment, I think we all can appreciate that. But we, these people in this room, don’t want to wake up to a 7-Eleven next to our homes.”
 
Another resident, who lives two doors from the project, talked into the microphone.
 
“I would also like to point out that owning that home for the last 20 years, a 7-Eleven, a laundromat, I can’t come up with too many scenarios that lead me to believe could devalue the value of my property more than living next door to that.”
 
A rendering of the project can be found at www.pacificcollective.com/listing-one
 
kirt@beachcomber.news

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