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City evicts auto shops

Downtown Newhall will no longer be place for automotive-repair businesses, city officials say

Posted: September 9, 2010 10:26 p.m.
Updated: September 10, 2010 4:30 a.m.
Cuby Cosio works on an engine at Auto Insurance Collision Center in Newhall earlier this year. The location is part of land purchased by the city, a transaction that is forcing the business to relocate. Cuby Cosio works on an engine at Auto Insurance Collision Center in Newhall earlier this year. The location is part of land purchased by the city, a transaction that is forcing the business to relocate.
Cuby Cosio works on an engine at Auto Insurance Collision Center in Newhall earlier this year. The location is part of land purchased by the city, a transaction that is forcing the business to relocate.
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The city of Santa Clarita has served eviction notices to two of three auto-repair shops on a block of city-owned Newhall land, realizing the owners’ fears that they’d have to move their longstanding businesses.

The owners of Wanjon Auto Body and Automotive Technology were given a 90-day notice, which said they must vacate the property by Dec. 1.

Insurance Auto Collision Center has “a different set of circumstances” than the other two, since the owner has another five years on his lease.

The city plans to have that business out before then, though.

Each of the three auto-repair shops has been located on the block for a dozen years or more.

“What can I do?” Wanjon owner Cesar Garcia said. “It’s kind of frightening,” he said, considering there aren’t a lot of relocation options around the Santa Clarita Valley.

Redevelopment Manager Armine Chaparyan said the city hired relocation consultant Georgia Marquis to guide the businesses through the process.

The auto-repair shops have hired a land-use attorney who is working with Marquis. The businesses will receive a
settlement based on appraisals as required by state law, Chaparyan said.

The businesses told The Signal in February they were concerned they’d be asked to leave, especially since they were already grappling with fewer customers thanks to ongoing renovation construction. The city was renovating Main Street and building the new Newhall Library at the time of their initial concern.

Automotive Technology owner Mike Hagerty said the city saw an opportunity when he didn’t give proper notice that he would like to enact a five-year extension option available under the lease agreement the city inherited.

“With the old landlord, it was a handshake, a phone call,” Hagerty said. “I was 15 days late to renew the five-year lease, according to the paperwork. So it’s out by the first of December. Merry Christmas to our family and everybody else around here. ... What did Automotive (Technology) do that was so bad?”

But that type of business doesn’t fit the city’s vision for downtown Newhall.

The Downtown Newhall Specific Plan, adopted in 2005, calls for a more pedestrian-friendly, urban Newhall, particularly along the five blocks of Main Street south of Lyons Avenue. According to the plan, auto-related uses are not appropriate there.

Hagerty said the move will be tough. Patrons are already asking if he’s going out of business.

The city, through its redevelopment agency, bought the 2-acre block bound by Main Street, Lyons Avenue, 9th Street and Railroad Avenue for $6.2 million in November.

 

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