Highland Park and its surrounds are quickly becoming the new bulls-eye of L.A. gentrification. This boom means a few stalwart businesses are, as always, being threatened with the boot. Phillip Sun, owner of 27-year-old Chinese restaurant Sun’s, may have to vacate his space as the property’s owner is seeking a rezoning ordinance to turn it into a commercial property, with plans to sell the building and its neighboring bike shop. "It’s basically a done deal," Sun tells Highland Park Patch. "I have nowhere else to go."
In additional news of Highland Park landlords giving the heave-ho to long-standing tenants is five-year-old Figueroa Produce, the healthy-leaning York Boulevard market owned by Ruben Perez and Luis Quismorio. The partners are also trying to hold on to their livelihoods amid news that the owner of their building is also seeking a new tenant, preferably a "big corporation," raising the rents dramatically in the process.
Unable to afford the rent increase, the duo is calling upon the community for material support, telling The Eastsider L.A., "We need help to bring the store back to full capacity…We need our community to come and purchase what they can." For the past few years, the market has done its best to give back to its neighbors, stocking healthy food and holding a weekly gathering for food trucks.
As this Northeast neighborhood continues to boom, the community is likely to have less say than developers and real estate investors on what kind of shape it takes. Clearly, independently owned businesses who helped the local reputation grow cannot depend on the sympathies of their landlords to stay afloat.
As Sun says about his endangered business, "I’m not afraid of going out, but this place won’t be the same. I’ve been here so long, this restaurant is bonded to the community…It’s not about me, It’s about what’s best for the community."