By Aletheia Melancon
By Aletheia Melancon
The plans presented at the Riverside Design Plan workshop last month at Cal Baptist University have caused business owners to give up their businesses to accommodate the City of Riverside.
According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, owners like Lin Lin and Wendy Guan in the Wood District have surrendered their property and sold their business and home for $715,000. Lin Lin Guan said that they received only $653,500.
The Kawa Market, located on Magnolia and Banidini, has been open for business in some way since the 1920s, according to Wendy Guan.
“It was also the first store in the Wood District area,” Wendy Guan said. “I am very sad to have to leave this place.”
Students and community members, such as Riverside City College student Aaron Shapiro, have a long history with the Guans’ shop.
“I’ve been coming to this store as long as I have been attending RCC,” Shapiro said.
The Guans, who have owned the market since 1991, believe that by giving up their home and business, they are helping with progress.
“(We) wanted a peaceful ending,” Lin Lin said. “No one will learn if we keep fighting. Someone has to surrender… the City of Riverside has been very helpful with the transition.”
When asked how long he had been communicating with the City of Riverside in regard to his home and business, he declined to answer and said that “the matter was very long and complicated.”
The Guans will close their doors May 29.
“(We) will remain in Riverside but (are) not sure of exactly where we will move to,” Guan said.
The Guans’ home and business have been approved by the City of Riverside for future development of single family housing.
Riverside City Councilman Don Betro said the closure of the market was voluntary.
“The Kawa Market was not part of the redevelopment plan and the owner wanted to sell,” Betro said.
The redevelopment plan that involves restructuring and rezoning in six districts would range from mixed-use neighborhood, mixed-use village and mixed-use urban. Affordable single family housing units are part of the plans for the Wood District. The plan was met with many concerns by residents and business owners who were worried about losing their homes and businesses.
Riverside City Planning director, Ken Gutierrez was adamant that eminent domain was not part of the City of Riverside’s design plan.
The city, which has to vote to approve any purchases for redevelopment for restructuring and rezoning, ultimately has the last say on any removal or relocating of homes and businesses to make way for the design plan.
Other businesses affected by the plan are stores located on Magnolia Avenue across the street from the Ralph’s grocery store and shopping center. The city plans to build a railroad underpass near Magnolia Center to alleviate issues with trains affecting traffic on Magnolia Avenue.
The underpass plan will cause many small businesses in the area to relocate or close.
Red Planet Records, one of the stores affected, has been in business for 13 years and will be closing its doors this September. David Sarantos has been the manager for the last four years.
“I have been coming to the record store since I was 13 years old,” Sarantos said. “It’s a tough business and we would be losing some very specialized customers that come here for our large collections of vinyl.”
Whether they will be relocating is still undecided.
“The City of Riverside has helped by sending out relocation aides that have been helping business owners to find new properties to relocate too,” Sarantos said.
Elliott’s Pet Center has been open since 1973 and will also have to relocate. Owner Donna Elliott was certain that the relocation properties are not good sites.
“Eighty percent of businesses that relocate fail,” she said. “I don’t want to fail. I just want a good location for my business.”
Since 1995, when the design plan was created, business owners have known about the plans of the City of Riverside and their negotiations to get business and home owners to relinquish their properties.
Olympic Cleaners, Domino’s Pizza, and two Mexican restaurants will be closing to make way for the underpass.
Wells Fargo Bank and Staples will remain, as will the Riverside Animal Hospital located in the same vicinity on Magnolia.
Betro said that the plan to close the businesses was a technical issue.
“It had nothing to do with business. It was dealing with grade separation and the proposed engineering plan that dictates which businesses would be closed to make way for the underpass that will be built,” Betro said.
To view details of the Design Plan Workshop log on to: http://www.riversideca.gov/planning/mag-av-sp.htm