By Nick Diamantides
Residents in Signal Hill and Long Beach are still looking forward to the opening of two new stores and a fast food restaurant in Signal Hill. Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market, Ross Dress for Less and In-N-Out burger are still moving forward with plans to open outlets in the city. Gary Jones, Signal Hill’s director of community development, said it’s possible all three could be up and running before the year ends.
Fresh and Easy Market is a supermarket chain with about 135 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada. The El Segundo-based corporation is a subsidiary of the world’s third-largest retailer, Tesco, which is based in the United Kingdom.
The company plans to open a Fresh and Easy Market on an approximately 2-acre site on Cherry Avenue and Crescent Heights Street, across from Home Depot in Signal Hill. Jones said the owner of the land, Signal Hill Petroleum, has already done a lot of site preparation work, including grading, but the city has not yet issued a building permit for the project.
“Fresh and Easy is in the process of making the building more green by incorporating more sustainable features into the design and equipment of the building,” he said. “The company can do that because the Signal Hill store will be built from the ground up. A lot of the Fresh and Easy stores are renovations of existing buildings.”
Jones explained that the company wants to demonstrate its commitment to the environment and sustainability by incorporating as many green features as possible into the Signal Hill store. He said that Signal Hill planning staff has not seen the proposed building plan yet, but company representatives have already informed them of the green aspects of the design.
The Fresh and Easy building will encompass 14,000 square feet. There is no projected construction start or finish date, but Jones said it is very possible the store could be completed and open for business within the next 12 months.
Meanwhile, Ross Dress for Less is still moving forward with its plan to occupy the now vacant former Circuit City building near the southwest corner of California Avenue and Spring Street. The store will be approximately 32,000 square feet. Jones said the city has issued a building permit to the company for minor interior and exterior renovations, including putting their sign in the front of the building. He said it was likely the store would open in the next few months.
Ross Dress for Less is the brand name of Ross Stores, Incorporated, based in Pleasanton. The first store opened in San Bruno in 1957, and the successful company became a chain soon after. In 1982, the corporation changed the stores’ format to a discount department store. Currently the company operates more than 900 stores in 27 U.S states and Guam, and is the nation’s third-largest off-price retailer.
In-N-Out Burger will soon be coming to Signal Hill as well, but the project ran into an unexpected delay when it was discovered that the building would be constructed on top of an earthquake fault. To prevent that from happening, the plan had to be altered, placing the building a few feet away from the fault. Jones said that before the plan can be changed, the geology of the site has to be studied.
“I think they have now completed all the geotechnical work,” he said. “It takes a lot of time to complete that work and write up the report. Then they have to have the city’s consulting geologist confirm everything before they make the adjustments on the site plan.” He noted that the planning staff has not seen the revised site plan yet, but once that is done the project could move forward quickly and the restaurant could be open for business in a few months.
In-N-Out Burger opened its first fast food restaurant in Baldwin Park in 1948. Now based in Irvine, the company operates more than 240 restaurants in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.
Jones said there was not many more commercial or retail developments taking place in the city currently. “We do have an office building on Willow Street between California and Atlantic Avenues,” he said. “The planning commission recently approved plans for a two-story medical office building there.” Jones added that the building will be constructed by 2H Construction, but the company does not have a tenant yet.