Korean family grocery allowed to stay while new site is found

August 20, 1994|By Norris P. West PTC | Norris P. West PTC,Sun Staff Writer

After a City Hall protest earlier this week by Korean-Americans, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has agreed to wait three months before the city takes possession of a West Baltimore grocery that it wants demolished to make room for a day care center.

The city had obtained a court order that would have allowed it to close the G-A Food Market yesterday.

David Pak, whose parents have owned the store, in the 1200 block of Druid Hill Ave., for 15 years, said he accepted with "guarded optimism" a pledge by the mayor to find a solution within three months that will allow his family's business to remain in the community.

"I trust the mayor when he says something like that," Mr. Pak said.

The mayor's agreement came Thursday during a meeting involving Mr. Pak, his parents, Son Chan Pak and Kwi Yung Pak, a Korean Society of Maryland officer and two high-ranking city administrators. The meeting followed a demonstration Tuesday by 200 Korean-Americans who were angry because the city was taking over the store.

Clinton R. Coleman, a spokesman for the mayor, said Mr. Schmoke has agreed to allow the family to stay in the building for 90 days. "We'll continue our efforts to find a suitable location in the community for the family," Mr. Coleman said.

Also, he said, the city will ensure that no damage is done to the property while contractors hired by Union Baptist Church prepare adjoining land for its day care center expansion.

The church plans to erect a building for its 250-pupil Head Start day care program on the site of the grocery and adjoining properties it owns. The city, under legislation passed by the City Council, will take over the store and give the land to the church.

Controversy over the store began last year when the church told the Pak family of its plan to expand its Head Start program.

Kenneth S. Lee, vice president of the Korean Society of Maryland who organized the City Hall rally, described Thursday's meeting as "fruitful."

"I think it was a very cooperative meeting," Mr. Lee said. "The mayor was willing to help us. We want a win-win situation instead of a lose-lose situation."

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