7-Eleven still vying for Echo Park strip mall

We’ve been following a story for quite some time now about a proposed 7-11 for the vacant storefront on the corner of Glendale Boulevard and Berkeley Avenue. The chain has been eyeing the space since the start of this year, having also applied for a license for the sale of beer and wine for the new store.

The possibility of the new 7-11 has raised many concern amongst residents. In addition to its close proximity to other existing convenience stores (just across the street is an AM/PM), a 7-11 already existing in Echo Park, and the sale of beer and wine (always a controversy), the space itself is a challenge. There are few parking spaces available, and the intersection is a disaster – with traffic consistently backed up on Berkeley as it is, a high-traffic store could contribute to the current traffic headaches of nearby residents.

Despite some pretty vocal opposition by residents, the Greater Elysian Echo Park Neighborhood Council (GEPENC) approved the 7-11 in late October (with conditions), but only serves as an advisory position to the city’s planning department. A recent zoning hearing with the city was postponed, but will be rescheduled likely for February of 2012.

The representatives of 7-11 seem optimistic and pretty open to neighborhood concerns – at last night’s neighborhood issues committee meeting of the Echo Park Improvement Association, representatives spoke about working with the current landlord on signage and lighting issues, and are in the process of developing design concepts that meet our concerns, amongst other issues. They’ve also limited the hours of beer and wine sales, along with banning the sale of single bottles and cans (also a condition recommended by GEPENC). Additionally, they’ll be cleaning up the parking lot, hoping to remove the unsightly brick wall, repainting/repaving the parking lot, and improving signage.

Which brings to mind: Also unfolding are the issues with the lot as a whole. This year the little flower/bike/tobacco kiosk was dismantled, the salon disappeared, and it looks like La Pizza Loca and the flower shop are vacating (no word on if it’s by choice) by the end of this month. The fate of the Tacos Mexico restaurant is also uncertain – and even the 7-11 reps admitted at last night’s meeting the strip mall is about 60% vacant. We’re a little worried that these places are being squeezed out because 7-11 is planning on making improvements (that little flower shop is amazing), and any new applicants will likely be paying much higher rents.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for that next zoning meeting with the city in early 2012. Otherwise, our crystal ball says 7-11 will likely be a new neighbor on Glendale Boulevard.

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