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Some Orsini residents give thumbs up to new DTLA Walmart

By Rachel Garcia
Published: Thursday, August 02, 2012, at 03:53PM
GHP Management

The Orsini has dense shrubbery and a Renaissance-inspired facade.

Spanning three city blocks and reaching upwards of seven stories tall, Downtown's Orsini apartment complex bordering the 110 and 101 freeways is hard to miss. The buildings, covered in a brick and cream stucco facade and surrounded by white columns, resemble grand Italian villas uprooted from the Renaissance period and thrown into Downtown.

The Orsini's amenities include a fitness center, rooftop swimming pool and virtual golf simulator -- but one luxury the property does not boast is a supermarket in walking distance.

Chain grocery stores are sparse around the complex. The closest Ralphs is about two miles away, and the nearest Vons is one neighborhood over in Echo Park.

This supermarket scarcity may be alleviated when the Chinatown Walmart opens on the ground floor of a building at Grand and Cesar Chavez avenues. The retail giant's new location would be a smaller, neighborhood market, selling food and pharmacy items. Mere blocks away, Orsini residents might be one of the store's biggest beneficiaries.

Chris Meola, Director of Marketing and Sales for GHP Management, the company which manages The Orsini, said the new Walmart would be a great addition to Downtown.

"The Walmart could create jobs for Downtown residents and will be something in walking distance that people can shop at," Meola said.

Some people who live in the apartment complex said they were in favor of the chain setting up shop down the street.

Resident Armin Bahadur said she currently buys groceries at the Ralphs in Downtown -- but may be up for a change.

"I think that would be great if there was something closer selling foodstuff," Bahadur said.

Jimmy Lam, another Orsini resident in favor of the new Walmart, said that although he too shops at the DTLA Ralphs, he goes to Chinatown markets for meat and fish.

"That would be good," Lam said about the new Walmart. "I would be able to walk [instead of] having to drive to the store."

Hala Albarrak of the Orsini said she prefers to leave Downtown altogether to do her shopping.

"I like the resort itself but it's not as safe as I thought it would be," Albarrak said about the Orsini. While she currently does her grocery shopping near The Grove and at the Super King grocery store four miles away, she said she would shop at the Walmart when it opens.

Although a Walmart downtown might mean more convenient shopping for residents, activists say that the cheap prices will come at a cost to Chinatown's culture and economy. Disgruntled protestors, politicians and even rocker Tom Morello have come out in opposition to Walmart's non-union practices and low prices.

In June, Congresswoman Judy Chu told Blogdowntown that Walmart will have harsh implications for the Chinatown community.

“Because Walmart is able to get its low prices and sell its cake for $1.99, [nearby] businesses will go out of business,” Chu predicted.

Despite opposition, Walmart expects its Downtown location to open early next year.


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