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A developer notched a victory Wednesday over business owners who had been seeking to block a homeless housing project next to his Boyle Heights shopping center.

The owners of the landmark El Mercado had appealed the city’s approval of the 49-unit apartment building for mentally ill homeless people, and then went to court after the L.A. City Council overturned their appeal.

In a tentative ruling on Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Richard L. Fruin Jr. said the owners failed to show substantial evidence for their claim that Los Angeles planners had improperly approved the proposal without a full environmental review.

“Words cannot express how thrilled we are and gratified by the judge’s tentative ruling,” said Dora Leong Gallo, executive director of A Community of Friends, a nonprofit developer that has been working for years to develop the property.

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