Ralphs is rolling ahead in Sherman Oaks with the construction, on the grounds of a former Ralphs, with the largest Ralphs ever in the San Fernando Valley.
Although opposed by neighborhood groups, as were other well-known developments currently under construction in Sherman Oaks, the immense development of this Ralphs mega-supermarket is very much under way.
Patch visited the construction site today at 14049 Ventura Blvd., which extends over a vast amount of commercial real estate from Ventura Boulevard north to Moorpark St., and to Hazeltine Ave. on the east and Murietta Ave. on the west.
Not unlike the vehement neighborhood opposition to the Chabad House development currently under construction on Chandler Blvd., some neighborhood groups opposed this development, objecting to its size,
Speaking in front of the Planning and Land Use [PLUM] committee (the same group which will be voting today on the Chabad issue), Marshall Long of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association [SOHA] said the proposed building doesn't fit in with the neighborhood.
"We're appealing this project due to its excessive height," he told the committee, which then included council members Ed P. Reyes, Jose Huizar and Paul Krekorian.
"It's a very big building and not in compliance with the specific plan."
Ten days before Christmas, 2010, the council, without any debate, voted to approve the project.
Now eighteen months later, and both Ventura Blvd. and Moorpark Street are burdened daily with heavy traffic congestion due to the construction.
In addition, another vast large retail and restaurant development is under construction less than a block to the west, adding more congestion. Called The Shops at Metro Art, it is proposed as a mini-Grove, designed to complement the new Ralphs with a veritable village of shops along 350 feet of frontage at 14141 Ventura Blvd.
Leandro Huirez, 24, an employee of the Taco Bell on Ventura Blvd. directly between both construction sites, said his customers complain constantly.
"They say the traffic here is no good," he said. "Takes too long just to drive in here. We're losing customers."
Ralphs is owed by the Kroger Company, and located in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the largest supermarket chain in the country.
When they won the right to proceed with this development, they introduced it to the community with special website devoted only to this project, on which they extend gratitude to the community for its support:
"We’ve crossed the finish line, and couldn’t have done it without our over 400 supporters, the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council, the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce, and VICA who stood by us every step of the way. We are pleased to announce that we have completed the approval process!"
This is no normal Ralphs, they promise, explaining that the previous store was the only Ralphs on Ventura Blvd. which had not been refurbished.
The original store, which was rebuilt in 1994 following the Northridge earthquake, was 31,555 square feet with a parking lot for 189 cars.
The new store will be 65,500 square feet, with two levels of parking providing a total of 316 parking spaces.
It will also have a 6,270 square foot lobby, as well as 4,000 square feet of ground floor shops along Ventura Blvd.
As one can see if you walk around the site, Ventura Blvd. is 11 feet higher than Moorpark Street, so there's a significant slope downward from the front of the property back towards Moorpark Street.
For years, this consisted of separate properties along the slope, disconnected. But the new Ralphs complex will bridge the entire lot.
To compensate for the height differential, the development is designed with two levels of parking, with the entrance to the first level on Moorpark Street and an entrance to the second top level on Ventura Blvd.
This expanded Fresh Fare version of Ralphs was chosen, according to the company, to improve the grocery shopping area in Sherman Oaks and to become more upscale in order to match what they perceive as the “quality retail environment” of this neighborhood.
So as to maintain a healthy openness with the community, Ralphs has established a a project information line with a phone number published repeatedly on their website.
Calls to that website reached a recorded message by holistic healing consultant Jason Teichner, who has no relationship whatsoever with Ralphs.
Patch will continue to bring you information about this story as it develops.