City Councilman Ben Hueso joined Barrio Logan community leaders this morning to announce that the long-stalled Mercado project’s day appeared to have finally come.

The City Council is scheduled to vote this afternoon on final approval for the retail and housing development that has been planned as a catalyst for the poor neighborhood since the 1980s.

At the foot of the Coronado Bridge, Hueso, Redevelopment Agency officials and Barrio Logan activists said they were relieved and ebullient that a private developer would, as soon as early next year, break ground on a Latino-themed supermarket and more than 90 units of affordable housing.

The project has gotten to this point before, but financing troubles and legal fights between the city and the project’s former developer have stalled progress on it since the early 1990s.

At the press conference, Hueso brushed aside concerns about claims being made by former developer Sam Marasco that his company, LandGrant Development, still owns the 6.8-acre plot of land at the corner of Cesar Chavez Parkway and Newton Avenue.

“Sam Marasco had his bite at the apple,” Hueso said. Marasco’s most recent ownership claims, the councilman said, are only desperate attempts to hang onto a project that long ago left him behind.

“We will take additional action to remove him physically from this project,” Hueso said. The city filed a lawsuit against Marasco this month demanding that he stop claiming ownership of the property.

Kevin McCook, who works for Shea Properties, the current developer, said his company was not concerned about Marasco’s ongoing claims.

“We stand behind the city on this,” he said.

At a reception after the press conference, Griselda Jimenez, a local resident who has lived in Barrio Logan since 1993, said she was thrilled to see the project ready to finally break ground.

“Nothing ever happens and you get tired,” she said. “It’s about time they finally passed this.”

— ADRIAN FLORIDO

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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