LOS ANGELES, CA-The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency has approved Los Angeles-based CIM Group’s plans for a Ralphs supermarket and 250 apartments in a $60 million project that will be part of $220 million in redevelopment at the site of the former Gas Co. headquarters.

The supermarket and the lofts are the central components of CIM’s three-block mixed-use project, which is designed to revitalize the center of downtown Los Angeles. Downtown residents have been clamoring for a supermarket ever since the inner-city, once shunned by the hip, evolved into a fashionable place to live after developers began converting former office buildings into apartments.

The 7.2-acre site is in the center of downtown between 8th and 9th Streets and Flower and Hope Streets. It will include 127,000 sf of retail space and will be a development of CIM’s California Urban Real Estate Fund. Construction is expected to start in July on the supermarket and lofts, called The Market at 9th and Flower. Five levels of lofts will be built atop the market, with a pool and landscaped plaza in the center. Avi Shemesh, a founding partner of CIM Group, notes that the company has already started renovations on three historic Gas Co. headquarters buildings on the site that are being converted to apartment lofts with ground floor retail space. Downtown development specialists have long said that the city needs a grocery store, more shopping, and more restaurants if it is to emulate other U.S. downtowns that have become “24-hour” cities.

Along with the supermarket, which has been leased to Ralphs, CIM is negotiating leases for a coffee shop, an International House of Pancakes, a Blockbuster Video and a dry cleaner for some of the other retail spaces, according to Shaul Kuba, founder and principal of CIM Group.

The supermarket is slated to open in late 2004, while the lofts will be ready for occupancy in early 2005.CIM Group, organized in 1994, has developed office and mixed-use properties including Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, Old Pasadena, Birch Street in Brea, Hollywood Boulevard and San Jose’s Downtown.

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