Work won't stop at Chinatown Walmart

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A judge today declined to put a hold on construction of the Chinatown Walmart project, saying there was no current environmental risk in allowing internal work on the building to proceed.

However, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant said a Nov. 13 hearing in the case will now be the actual date for trial of a petition filed by two groups challenging the project instead of the originally scheduled trial- setting conference.

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and United Food Workers Local 770 jointly filed the petition July 3, alleging the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety failed to notify them of its decision to exempt the development from an environmental review.

Attorneys for the city and Walmart deny the allegations. Chalfant will decide during the non-jury trial which side is correct.

The plaintiffs maintain the 33,000-square-foot grocery store on the northwest corner of Cesar E. Chavez and Grand avenues will have a negative impact on traffic and on the general character of the area.

Chalfant said that depending on how he rules, Walmart could be ordered to pull everything out of the store even though the planned December opening of the location was approaching.

Gideon Kracov, an attorney representing the groups, went to court today asking Chalfant to stop the work until the Nov. 13 hearing. He argued that if no action is taken to stop construction now the judge could be left in the difficult position of telling Walmart two months from now that they have to leave a completely ready-to-open store unoccupied.

However, Chalfant said he was not troubled by that possibility.

Construction workers held a rally Thursday saying the Walmart project is bringing needed jobs to the area.

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