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Women's Center Gets OK for Retail Plans on Los Angeles Street

By Lauren Mattia
Published: Wednesday, February 02, 2011, at 09:32AM
Downtown Women's Center Lauren Mattia

Looking south on the Los Angeles Street block where the Downtown Women’s Center hopes to open Made off Main, a vintage clothing store.

After an appeal by a neighboring property owner was thrown out last week, the Downtown Women’s Center now has the go-ahead for Made off Main, a retail shop that it plans to open next year in its Los Angeles Street facility.

The store will offer vintage, handmade and new clothing and accessories.

Zoning restrictions prohibit the sale of “secondhand goods” in the C4 zone given to the property, and the owner of the Medallion Lofts development appealed a recent decision to grant a variance allowing the use, much to the disappointment to local residents in favor of new retail options.

“They are putting all kinds of nice names on this,” said Medallion owner Saeed Farkhondehpour. “But this is nothing but a secondhand goods store.”

Ellia Thompson, DWC’s legal representative, countered Farkhondehpour concerns. “It is not our intent to establish a thrift store,” she said. “Our goal is to establish a high end vintage store that caters to the local residents.”

DWC provides job training and employment opportunities for women who have few chances in more conventional job markets due to homelessness, poverty, drug abuse, and mental and physical health issues.

“For a group of women that come here, they are able to work and that is part of their plan of gaining personal stability,” said Patrick Schandrick, DWC’s Director of Communications.

“My participation in my job training program has helped with my self esteem and self worth and helped me realize I can be a part of public society,” said Diana Pentagrass at last Tuesday’s Central Area Planning Commission hearing.

Local residents like Sharon Kitfer, who spoke at the hearing, look forward to Made off Main’s future. “My husband and I have lived Downtown for five years,” she said. “We watch with interest when there are new Downtown projects that gives us a much needed choice for shopping.”

MADE by DWC, DWC’s first, smaller boutique/cafe at their new San Pedro facility, will offer “high-end items and handmade craftwork products created by the women of the Downtown Women’s Center,” and is slated to open in March.

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