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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

RETAIL — Stalled Land Deal Benefits Vendors At Swap Meet

Swap meet vendors in the city of San Fernando may get a permanent reprieve to sell their wares at a 34-acre site that had been slated for development. Owners of the site, part of a former airport on Arroyo Avenue and Glenoaks Boulevard, had been in negotiations with Regency Realty Corp. of Los Angeles to sell the land for big-box retail development, but the deal appears to be off. Swap meet vendors, who last year protested their removal, will be allowed to stay at least through the end of the year, and perhaps longer. “(The sale to Regency) is on hold,” said Richard Dunn, one of the site’s owners. “It’s still operating as a swap meet and it really isn’t for sale.” Last fall, when Dunn and now-deceased William Hannon announced they would sell the property to Regency, vendors at the site, many of whom had operated there for decades, protested to the city and anyone else who would listen. The potential sale pushed the nearly 1,000 small vendors to unite in rallies against the city and promise to raise money to buy the land themselves. The city of San Fernando received three bomb threats during the protests, said Sara Withers, city economic development manager. At the time, property owners and the city of San Fernando seemed intent on moving forward with the sale. A few days before his death last spring, Hannon, who owned a two-thirds equity stake in the property, and Dunn both signed an option with Regency Realty to sell the property for $28 million. But as of last week, Regency was only willing to pay $16.5 million for the parcel, and Dunn said he is unwilling to lower the price. Regency had asked the city to chip in $7 million to help defray the parcel’s cost, but that request was denied. “They wanted us to fill a gap that we are not willing to do,” said City Administrator John Ornelas. Officials at Regency Realty did not return calls. Dunn now says he doesn’t want to sell the property. “The city is the one trying to market it,” he said. “We would like to see it as a swap meet.” As it is now, the swap meet, which operates three days a week, is very lucrative, Dunn said. As the property owners, Dunn and Hannon’s estate collect a fee from each of the vendors and take in most of the $1-per-person entrance fee.

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