Overview:

Plans include over 350 parking spaces on two basement levels, which means extensive excavation, but most businesses remain optimistic

As the Vons superstore at 710 Broadway continues to empty its shelves, residents and local businesses based around the Lincoln Blvd and Broadway intersection brace for what could turn into significant disruption.

The 280-apartment development includes space for a new 53,500 square feet Vons superstore on the ground floor with 1,500 square feet of outdoor dining space plus an additional 34,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and fitness use. It also includes two subterranean levels to accommodate 354 vehicle parking spaces and 523 spaces for bicycles.

An approximate comparison would be the Trader Joe’s at 500 Broadway, with its underground car park access on 5th Street, between Broadway and Colorado Ave. However, the existing Vons site has no underground space, so this will require extensive excavation. And this in turn will require the constant removal of unwanted material off site and the transportation of necessary construction equipment on site.

However, reactions to the impending whirlwind of construction chaos from the local businesses surrounding the site are, for the most part, cautiously optimistic.

“It’s probably going to be pretty difficult in terms of having all that construction and nobody wants to be living amongst construction in the place that they live or work,” Cody Romness, co-founder of Allegiate Gyms said.

“In the short term it’s far from ideal, but it’s not going to be the worst thing in the world if we can clean that area up,” Romness said.

Hector Padilla, general manager of Bay Cities Italian Deli is no stranger to the disruption caused by large building developments. “There’s an increase in traffic even now because they’re working on this side of the building [1550 Lincoln Blvd],” he said.

The extremely popular delicatessen is located almost opposite the nearly-completed NMS Lincoln Blvd apartments, which itself has been under construction for more than two years and could be considered as an introduction-of-sorts of what to expect from the 710 Broadway project.

“Over maybe about the past year, or year and a half, the roads would close around here and it was mayhem then. So yeah, to be honest, we’ve been there and done that already,” Padilla said.

However, no local business will be affected quite as much as the quaint, quirky little street fair-style store seemingly stuck onto the side of the actual Vons building. Called Timeless Symbols, it sells incense, jewelry, statues and other imported goods, specifically from India, Tibet and Nepal. Unlike any of the other businesses surrounding this intersection, this merchant will have to actually move and relocate to a new site.

Owner Asha Smith has been at 710 Broadway since 2006. Her business endured the “Great Recession” from late 2007 into 2009 and more recently, the Covid pandemic, but sadly, it couldn’t survive gentrification.

“I met with the vice president of Safeway, I think it was, and he told me they had a space, where there was just a vending machine and where the homeless sleep. So I said I’ll take it. I just wanted to display my merchandise. I was a very small business,” Smith said.

While only receiving a very limited amount of information regarding the new development, Smith said that Vons parent company called her unexpectedly about two weeks ago and asked that she vacate the tiny territory immediately.

“They called me and said my lease had expired and said ‘we want you to leave now.’ I think it was the first day of the storm and I said ‘I can’t leave now, it’s raining and I have to find a new location.’ Then my husband spoke to them after, I think the second or third time they called and now we have until the end of the month.”

While any parking not directly connected to shopping inside the Vons store is frowned upon and occasionally discouraged, the 140-or-so car parking spaces were undeniably useful to local business. Bay Cities Deli has the unique feature of having its own car park, albeit a very small one. So while traffic congestion will almost certainly worsen once construction has begun, customers can at least continue to access the parking lot adjacent to the delicatessen from Lincoln Court. But Padilla doesn’t think the loss of Vons car park will affect his business.

“You know, it might a little bit, bit that won’t affect the die-hards. Many customers do park there and that will soon be gone, so it’ll be a challenge, but I know our base core of customers here and I know they’ll find a way, even if they have to park down the street. But, it will be a challenge, just how bad remains to be seen,” Padilla said.

“It’s definitely a valid and fair concern,” Romness said. “You know, we occasionally get a call from Vons saying our members are parking there and that they’ll get towed and I totally get it. And of course we tell our members not to park there, but look, anything that makes it one step harder to get into a gym doesn’t help sell gym memberships or encourage people to get involved. So, yeah, it’s gonna be difficult.”

There are additional side effects that also might not be immediately obvious; prescriptions from Vons pharmacy can be transferred to Tri Tech Rx, which also offers delivery services. It’s believed that everything will eventually transfer to Rite Aid on 14th and Wilshire Blvd. And as if all of that wasn’t bad enough, with the Starbucks located inside of Vons also now closed, it means folk have to walk an extra five blocks for their hot chocolate.

The Daily Press has also learned the fate of the California palm trees that currently adorn the car park. According to a statement received from the City of Santa Monica, “There aren’t requirements for the relocation of trees on private property. Because the site is being completely redeveloped, 39 of the existing palms on the property are to be removed. However, the palm trees in the public right of way (city-owned on 7th St) are being retained. Additionally, the project has an approved landscape plan that proposes trees.”

scott.snowden@smdp.com

Scott Snowden

Scott Snowden started with the SMDP in 2023 with a long list of journalistic experience. He has written local and international investigative work in Forbes, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The...