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Lawsuit Casts Shadow

'Pivotal place' sacrificed for Heritage Gardens

By Marcus Walton

Carlos Posada, 31, grew up working at his father's shop on the corner of Alum Rock Avenue and King Road. By the time he was 16, he spent his weekends and summers rebuilding and repairing radiators. It was the place where Posada and his father, as he said, "became best friends."

In the last few decades, the corner has undergone a lot of changes. The grocery store is gone and so are the houses that used to line King Road. But for Carlos the biggest difference is the fact that his dad's shop is no longer there, cleared to make way for a center celebrating Mexican heritage and culture.

"That shop was the catalyst for the Posada family getting into the radiator business," Carlos said. "My uncles and cousins all worked in that shop and we all learned how to work on radiators there."

Now, he says, there are nine radiator shops run by the Posada family in the United States.

"That hole in the wall--that was the pivotal place."

Posada, who ran his wholesale radiator repair shop, Radiatorland, out of the same building as his father, Jaime, now occupies a small space right across the street. He took the Redevelopment Agency's relocation funds and now has three sites for his business. For him, things may be looking up. But the younger Posada argues that the agency acted in bad faith in dealing with his father, who moved to San Jose from Colombia in 1964. When the city forced the shop's closure, Jaime decided that moving to another location was not going to be worth the effort. Why move to some side street, away from the traffic and hustle of Alum Rock Avenue? Why leave the spot where the shop sat for the last 50 years?

Jaime, 58, took the city's $20,000 in-lieu payment and called it quits, but not without trying to sue the city for monetary damages for the loss of his business.

"My business is a little different from my dad's," explains Posada. "His business comes from people who have known where he is for years; my business could be run out of a barn. But for my dad it's location, location, location."

Since 1976, the elder Posada catered to an older Spanish-speaking clientele and dealt with individual car owners. Carlos deals with more corporate accounts and does not work on drive-in clients.

Despite his anger toward the city, Carlos said he can see the project's potential. He says he is glad to see money being put into the Alum Rock neighborhood and calls it a much-needed improvement.

But that doesn't change his mind about looking out for his father.

"Is it worth it? Whose blood has to pay for it?" Carlos asked "I'd say [to Channel 11], it's not worth it. I don't want to see my dad in pain."

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From the April 18-24, 1996 issue of Metro

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