Tom BurfieldSam Tawachi (left), buyer for Red Tomatoes Farmers Market in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., looks over white peaches at Davalan Sales Inc. on the Los Angeles Wholesale Market with salesman Jose Hernandez. Hernandez says sales of the tasty California peaches have been brisk this summer.Business appears strong on the major produce markets in Los Angeles.
On the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market, executive director Richard Gardner said through a spokesperson that “everything is fine” on that market and “pretty much the same.”
All three of the locations owned by Evoq Properties Inc. are doing well, said general manager Bob Iannessa.
After its first year in business, 21 of the 32 units on the Eighth Street Market have been leased, and business also is doing well on the firm’s facility called 2640 E. Washington, which has 33 units but sells strictly to wholesalers.
The biggest news is on the 94-year-old Seventh Street Market, where all available units on the ground floor are leased, and Iannessa has some creative plans in mind for the second floor.
Over the past year, about 84% of the tenants on the Seventh Street market have switched from month-to-month agreements to three- to five-year leases, locking in the amount they pay and giving them stability, he said.
On the ground floor, 106 of the 114 leasable doors are in use. The others are being refurbished or have been set aside as “go-to boxes” — units that tenants can access if they lose power in their own coolers so they won’t lose costly perishable product.
The empty units already have been spoken for once the upgrades are completed, Iannessa said.
Also at the market, the parking area is about to be resurfaced, the recycling area will be moved out of sight, and 16 cooler boxes have been installed.
The market is much cleaner since Evoq Properties has taken over, and tenants can feel free to come to the management office with any concerns and be assured that “someone will listen to them,” he said.
“People want to be in this market,” Iannessa said.
He estimated that the facility is responsible for 1% of the produce sold in the U.S.
Iannessa also has big plans for the 100,000 square feet on the facility’s second floor.
It’s not practical to sell produce there. Instead, Iannessa hopes to turn the space into a kind of haven for artists. He already has leased space to a painter and a sculptor, and he hopes to attract others in the field of dance, music or other artistic endeavors to set up shop there.
He’s even planning a showroom in the center where artists can showcase their talents.
It will be a “brand new kind of community for the artist,” he said. “We might collide the world of produce and art together.”