Gardena will allow a Superior Grocers market to open in a large, vacant building despite vociferous community opposition to the proposal.

The City Council voted 3-2 this week to allow the owners of the 38,220-square-foot building to lease it to the low-cost grocery chain for the next 20 years. The market will take over a long-vacant building in a mall on the northeast corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Marine Avenue.

Two council members voted against it because the chain is not unionized and it could take business from existing grocery stores.

"I do know the effect of a Superior market coming into an area, and I have not seen a situation where it has enhanced it or made it better," Councilwoman Tasha Cerda said. "They have tents in front of their buildings, murals on the sides. That's not what we want to see in Gardena."

Councilwoman Rachel Johnson agreed with Cerda, arguing that the market would bring down the neighborhood and hurt business at other grocery stores. She said she wants to see a drugstore in that building.

"We do firmly believe that another Superior market will siphon profits away from (the existing) Payless market," Johnson said. "Taking profits away from already established businesses won't be anything but a detriment."

Several residents also opposed the idea, asking instead for a coffee shop, hardware store or national brand boutique market.


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Felipe Segovia, a representative of the property owner, said attempts were made to lure a national chain tenant to the site, but Superior Grocers was the best offer received.

"It's a very hard site to find folks because of the area and the look of the building the way it exists," Segovia said. "As landlords, we would be on them to keep up the site. It's in our interest to keep the site nice and clean. We bought this building two years ago with the intention of remodeling it and making it part of the community in a positive way."

Mayor Paul Tanaka, along with Councilmen Ron Ikejiri and Dan Medina, voted to allow the market to open after the city attorney said the project could be denied only if there was enough legal evidence to prove it would be detrimental to the city or not compatible with nearby businesses.

Ikejiri said it would be poor leadership for council members to oppose the market because of its labor policies.

"Where in the code does it say we're not allowing nonunion stores?" Ikejiri said. "There's a funny thing we have under the Constitution - if we don't like something, we can't just change the rules. I haven't seen anything that would allow us to deny it.

"When you're confronted with issues like this, it just has to be done in the right way."

sandy.mazza@dailybreeze.com

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