Sunday, April 11, 2010

475. El Cerrito, Redevelopment, IBEX, 1990

Published news story by Lurene K. Helzer, December 6, 1990, The Journal, “EC moves to obtain IBEX project area; Angered businesses on target site may face legal action”. Only a portion of this clipping is available.

Email Lurene in 2014 at

Photo above, from is from interior of abandoned building in Detroit, not El Cerrito. When cities begin redevelopment programs, they are usually trying to avoid growing urban or suburban blight. Once blight's rooted, it's expensive for a city to fight. People leave in droves.

EL CERRITO – The Redevelopment Agency may have to slap lawsuits on some El Cerrito and business property owners to make way for the IBEX project.

“It’s going to hurt my business tremendously. I’ve got a lot of walk-in business here and now I’m going to a place where I’m not even known. It’s going to take time for that walk-in traffic to build up,” complained Shirley Levias, who leases office space for her insurance business at 11722 San Pablo Ave.

Levias said she will move to 12962 San Pablo – and pay rent three times higher than the rent she is now paying.

“They’ve had me on hold for almost two years,” Levias said. “They have given us the month they’re going to tear us down so many times…Do you know what that does to a business?”

The agency passed four resolutions Nov. 25 authorizing the agency’s staff “to acquire the properties and leasehold interests by eminent domain.”

The agency is required in its agreement with IBEX to acquire the site for development.

The four parcels of land which are being acquired through eminent domain are all on San Pablo Avenue, where IBEX Group plans to develop housing and retail shops.

Raphael and Maria Sosa, who ran the former Bert’s Place Bar, Ramillaben and Gidda S. Patel, who own the Bay Bridge Motel, Shirley Levias, who owns the Levias Insurance Agency, Eugene and Vivian Agnitsch of the Silver Dollar Restaurant and Jean Wightman of the Wightman Bookkeeping and Tax Service are all named in the resolutions.

Acquisition and relocation are separate matters, Redevelopment Agency Director Gerald Raycraft said Friday. Addressing the issue in general, he added, “Sometimes being in a redevelopment project area scares people.”

“I think her type of business can relocate in a relatively easy fashion and still maintain contact and continuity with her clients,” said Raycraft.

Levias complained the agency offered her no compensation for the relocation other than moving assistance. But Raycraft said the agency has limits set by law.

“We have to be very careful,” Raycraft said. “If we offer her something that she’s not entitled to, it could be construed as a gift of public funds.”

Another business owner who leases space in the same building as Levias is Jean Wightman.

“In my lifetime, I didn’t want to move this office again,” Wightman said.

But Wightman, who was planning to retire or sell the business within five years, said she would begin moving her office to 12960 San Pablo on Dec. 3.

“I’d just rather not move,” Wightman said.

Although she is satisfied with her new Richmond location, she dreads losing clients and tolerating the inconvenience.

The IBEX Group intends to build 136 apartment units and a 19,000-square-foot retail complex on San Pablo Avenue. The development agreement, signed with the agency in July of this year, requires the agency to adhere to a timetable in delivering the site to IBEX. – end of clipping –

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