Big Lots at the corner of Junipero Avenue and Seventh Street is set to close next month, and plans are underway to renovate the space and open a Big Saver food market.
Long Beach Vice Mayor and Second District Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal, who lives in the Rose Park area, said she was excited to hear that the owner of the property, Uka Solanki, is planning to renovate the space and open a grocery store that will provide a needed service in the community.
“I am looking forward to this change,” Lowenthal said. “The Seventh Street corridor is on the brink of taking off, and this single development is a chance to be a catalyst for Seventh Street corridor improvement. This is going to send a signal to other business owners to improve their businesses, or for new businesses to come in.”
Solanki said he expects to open the Big Saver before the end of the year, and is taking the community’s suggestions about the business into consideration. Additionally, Solanki said he hopes to add a bank or other new business and structure into the shopping center and purchase and eliminate the gas station on the corner, which also is set to close.
Emily Stevens, president of the Rose Park Neighborhood Association, said the association hosted a meeting last week to talk about the incoming Big Saver with Lowenthal, Solanki and representatives of the Craftsman Village, North Alamitos Beach Association and Luther Burbank Elementary School.
Stevens said residents support removing Big Lots and bringing in a food market, but she added that some people are concerned about the look and design of the Big Saver as well as the diversity of the food sold at the store.
“We hope that this store will not have a standard Big Saver store front,” Stevens said. “We have suggested that the owner adopt a façade that is more like a craftsman commercial building, which is a good fit for this neighborhood. “We have some drawings done up that we are going to present to him (Solanki). He said he was open and will accept our drawings.”
“We are excited about the change, but we want the new business to look a certain way and have a certain feel,” Stevens added. “This area has a lot of potential.”
In addition to storefront changes, Stevens said residents hope that this will be a chance to improve the condition of the parking lot outside Big Lots.
Stevens said the RPNA is working closely with the Big Lots property owner and Lowenthal to help make the Big Saver project a success in the neighborhood. The RPNA plans to host other meetings about the project before the issue goes to Long Beach’s Planning Commission or City Council.