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Judge: Construction on Chinatown Walmart can continue for now (UPDATED)

Walmart is building a neighborhood market at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues.
Walmart is building a neighborhood market at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues.
Kylie Reynolds

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Two labor groups that want to block a Walmart grocery store from opening in the Chinatown area cannot stop construction at this time, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and United Food and Commercial Workers sought injunctive relief to stop construction on the 33,000-square-foot store at Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues while they appealed their case to City Hall.

Judge James C. Chalfant, however, determined irreparable harm would not be done to the environment if Walmart continued work on the interior of its proposed store. He also found there was no evidence of adverse impacts from parking or traffic.

After the hearing, attorney Gideon Kracov told reporters his two clients would seek relief from the city’s zoning administrator, who is expected to rule any day on whether permits were properly issued to Walmart. The plaintiffs will appeal their case to the Planning Commission and Los Angeles City Council if necessary, though that process could last well into the middle of next year.

“Listen, this case is about the rule of law," Kracov said. "It doesn’t matter how powerful Walmart is. It has to follow the same rules as everyone and that is what we’re fighting for in this case.” 

Attorneys for Walmart referred questions to a corporate spokesman. 

"We are pleased that the request to stop the construction and opening of our store was denied.  So far, special interest attempts to block our store have not only been without merit but also proven to be a waste of time and resources," said Steven V. Restivo with Wal-Mart.

"Let's hope this marks the end of their effort to stir up controversy where there is none.  We continue to believe our permits were issued validly and look forward to serving local residents soon at our new Walmart Neighborhood Market in downtown LA."

The judge noted that Walmart continues to build at its own risk. The company received permits to build in March and construction began in June. Work is expected to be completed next month, and the store is expected to open in the early part of 2013.

This post has been updated.