A plant nursery that survived barely a year in Echo Park will be opening shop in Eagle Rock—right next to a proposed 7-Eleven store on York Boulevard that has been the subject of some contentious exchanges in last month’s board meeting of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council.
The plant nursery, Echo Garden, has been granted a two-year lease on the same property where a 7-Eleven store is planned as the key tenant in a shopping center, according to the nursery’s owner, Hi Duk Lee.
On Tuesday, Feb. 5, the board of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council is scheduled to discuss and possibly vote on whether or not to support the proposed 7-Eleven’s application to sell beer and wine. The ERNC will meet at 7 p.m. at Eagle Rock City Hall.
Last month, the ERNC Land Use Committee granted conditional approval to the 7-Eleven project. Among the conditions imposed by the committee is the stipulation that the store sell beer and wine only from noon till 10 p.m. during the first year, after which the 7-Eleven must return to the planning process with the ERNC.
Currently located at 1901 Echo Park Ave., in a roughly 4,000-square-foot portion of a 7,000-square-foot lot that includes a vintage home and outdoor accessories store, Echo Garden is being forced to move out of Echo Park because the nursery’s rent was recently doubled, according to Charlie Marder, the owner of Mi Alma Designs, the home and accessories store.
Marder, whose own rent was also doubled, told Patch that he sublet a little more than half of his leased lot to Lee about a year ago in an effort to meet rent payments, on which he had been falling behind. Marder confirmed reports first posted on The Eastsider LA blog last Wednesday that his rent was doubled to $6,000 per month and that he was given a month’s notice on Jan. 5 to move out, along with Lee. (Marder said he plans to move his business to Melrose Avenue and Wilton.)
Lee, 74, a Korean immigrant who came to the United States when he was 29 years old, expects to open Echo Garden on March 4 at 4515 York Blvd., next to the proposed 7-Eleven store on 4527 York Blvd. The planned convenience store has applied for—but has yet to get—a license to sell beer and wine from the planning department of the City of Los Angeles. Last week, a public hearing on the issue was indefinitely deferred after Associate Zoning Administrator Fernando Tovar determined that 7-Eleven had not completed the necessary outreach work regarding the hearing. Click here to read more about the hearing’s postponement.
Lee recently set up display racks for plants and posted signs for his upcoming nursery on York Boulevard. Asked if he was concerned that he could possibly be a neighbor to a controversial tenant such as the proposed 7-Eleven, Lee said: “I like 7-Eleven because they open 24 hours. 7-Eleven is going to help my business.”
David Degan, a consultant for the landlord who wishes to develop the York Boulevard lot into a $3 million shopping center, told Patch that Lee was among several entrepreneurs who responded to a "For Lease" sign posted outside the property where Echo Garden will set up shop. The sign had been up for about three months, and Lee got in touch with the developer some three weeks ago, Degan said.
The consultant said he is excited about having Echo Garden next door to the planned 7-Eleven, even though he isn’t certain about the plant nursery’s viability.
“It’s a pretty depressed corner [of York Boulevard],” he said, adding: “Hopefully they’ll survive—if they do, we’ll definitely incorporate them into the shopping center.” Degan said Echo Garden would fit right into the developer’s plans to include a coffee shop—possibly a Peets Coffee store—in the shopping center. “We will give them [the plant nursery] a rooftop garden where patrons can enjoy coffee,” he said.
Lee explained that the lot’s landlord has promised to pay for his moving expenses after the nursery’s two-year lease runs out and the proposed shopping center is expected to be built. Echo Garden will move to an empty lot nearby, Lee said.