Expanded parking lots, more shops, additional landscaping with trees, outdoor plazas and an enhanced “premium” store were just some of new changes that representatives from Property Development Centers (PDC) presented to Eagle Rock residents about what they can expect from their Vons store on Figueroa Street and La Loma Road.
Presented by Councilman Jose Huizar, the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce, The Eagle Rock Association, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and the PDC, this informational meeting was the first time that reps from the shopping store chain reached out to the community regarding their plans for the Vons store that was originally opened in 1966 as a Safeway store.
Indeed, PDC’s Chief Operating Officer David Zylstra began the meeting apologizing for the absence of communications and expressed his hoped and determination that the evening would start a better dialogue between Vons and the community.
Zylstra outlined the history of the store as well as current plans to change, upgrade and add to the site, making it more, as he said, “a neighborhood shopping center.” In addition to changing the configuration of the parking lot for spaces (which would result in adding up to 50 more parking stalls), the property will contain a series of ancillary tenant shops connected to the main Vons store as well as a stand-alone shop (or shops) that would be located on the corner of La Loma Road and Figueroa Street. The ancillary tenants will add about 14,000 square-feet of space while the stand-alone building is about 3,000 square feet.
No tenants have officially been announced, but Zylstra hinted that there is interest in establishing a café, a restaurant, personal care services, a hair salon, telecommunications and a financial institution. Zylstra wants to sign the tenants as soon as possible and expects to share that announcement with the community in the next couple of months.
When asked about the potential makeup of chain stores to independently owned shops, Zylstra estimated that 25 percent would be a national, 30 percent regional and the rest would be neighborhood-based.
Community members had numerous questions about traffic flow from La Loma and Figueroa, the positioning of the stand-alone building’s front , and if the alley that runs parallel to La Loma will once again be a “hidden” way for Eagle Rockians to access the store. (Yes, that alley will still be functioning when the work is completed.)
The La Loma access was of particular concern since that street has historically been crowded and congested, and often MTA drivers and their busses are resting near the CVS exit. Zylstra went through a series of possible solutions to easing that congestion from adding a right turn only lane to widening the street by six feet to accommodate the traffic flow.
Zylstra revealed that the new store will establish a security system so shopping carts won’t be able to leave the premises, thereby lessening the incident of abandoned shopping carts. That remark got a nice round of applause.
Proposed landscaping will include more trees not only on the outer limits of the area, but also inside of the parking lot itself. Sycamores and Australian willows were the two types of trees mentioned along with a variety of drought tolerant plants, shrubs and ground cover. One community member was happy to hear that society garlic would NOT be part of the plant palette.
In addition to the outside changes, Vons itself is slated to undergo enhancements, making it one of the few “premium” Vons in the area. Zylstra shared glamorous renderings of remodeled pharmacy, produce, beauty care and coolers sections. Also, the store will offer expanded organic and gluten-free offerings.
One community member asked if the premium store meant that prices will go up. (“No,” was the response.)
All in all, the big question of the night was how much longer will the construction take and when will the grand opening of the new store be? Zylstra once again estimated that it will be at least another 3 months to finish the parking lot and 5 months for building and store enhancements. If all goes well, he said, the new Vons neighborhood center would be open for business in October of this year.
“And that’s when you will throw a big party for us in Eagle Rock, right?” someone asked. “Absolutely,” he said.
- How the Vons on Figueroa is set to become a neighborhood shopping center. Patch
Brenda Rees is a writer and resident of Eagle Rock.