By Alethia Melancon
By Alethia Melancon
The Design Plan Project for redevelopment in Riverside has affected many business owners throughout the city. Many of these entrepreneurs have been affected by eminent domain.
The Kawa market on Magnolia and Bandini closed and will be replaced with single family housing. Future closings such as Elliot’s Pet Store and Planet Red Records will make way for grade separation of the railroad tracks to help alleviate traffic. The redevelopment has also affected business owners who have had to relocate to accommodate an expansion of the Riverside Plaza.
Audio Shoppe owner Alan Hickman has been a fixture across the street from the Riverside Plaza for 24 years. Earlier this year, the shop relocated to Central Ave.
“The city is moving us; however we are making the most of it,” the sign on the former building read.
“After a long two-year battle with the city of Riverside, I realized I could not win, not even with an attorney,” Hickman said.
Hickman is a fourth generation Riverside resident whose shop is one of the top 10 in the nation specializing in electrical systems for cars and “hot rods.”
“I was determined to do whatever it took to keep my original business location,” Hickman said. “Many business owners took a big blow with the Redevelopment in Riverside. I have given a big sacrifice for the greater good of redevelopment.”
The Audio Shoppe specializes in audio systems for cars, boats and electrical systems. It has three television shows it works with and featured in national magazines.
Hickman did state that the city of Riverside has been very accommodating with the relocation by funding the entire transition.
Art Gage, councilman for Ward-3 District, stated that there are certain federal laws that govern public projects.
“Whenever businesses must move for public projects, the city must consider the fair market value in determining how much it will pay to relocate businesses,” Gage said.
The guidelines state that two appraisals must be made by the city and one by the owner. Advertisement, moving costs and additional cost for loss of business must all be taken into consideration by the city when appraising the cost to the owner.
“I have been a customer of Audio Shoppe a few times and felt that because of his specialized type of business, Hickman should not lose any business,” Gage said.
On the decision on what businesses were relocated, Gage said that it “all came down to money.”
To move larger buildings like Staples and Wells Fargo Bank that are on Magnolia and in the same location where smaller businesses like Red Planet Records and Elliots Pet Center are located would have cost a lot more money for the city.
“The Redevelopment Project is costing $50-60 million dollars for the grade separation of the railroad tracks,” Gage said. “The larger buildings would have cost an additional $20 million more.”
“All possible alternatives were reviewed to find the most efficient way to redevelop that area,” Gage said. “This was the only way.”
Red Planet Records, who is also scheduled to close soon, has a different outlook towards the help that the city has given.
“The city is not really helping us,” owner Chris Siebert said
“Real estate prices have skyrocketed and the city is only offering $10,000 to move,” Siebert said. A new location has yet to be found to relocate the record store.
“With these [real estate] prices, it could put me out of business,” he said.
Hickman’s new location at 6760-A Central Ave. is about a five minute drive from the Riverside Plaza and in a more industrial setting. The facility is twice the size of the old location with more space for boats and even a conference room for meetings.
Hickman hopes that, with the clientele he has established over the past 24 years, business will not be affected.
“I’m away from many shoppers, but I am a specialized store that is more than just audio installation,” Hickman said. “But it’s too early to tell.”