By Ryan Velez
Atlanta Black Star reports that a project 8 years in the making is finally ready to begin, as a Black-owned investment firm has gotten a go-ahead to redevelop the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in South Central Los Angeles. Chicago-based Capri Investment Group will spend $700 million to restore and expand the historic shopping plaza, which has been dubbed “America’s oldest urban regional mall,” by Black Enterprise.
This lucrative mixed-use project will include an additional 961 condos and apartments, a new 400-room hotel, a 10-story office building, new retail shops and eateries. The project will also triple the plaza’s size to over 3 million square feet. At the moment, a final approval from the Los Angeles City Council is needed.
“While there still is a governmental and community process to be completed for this large, complex and socially impactful investment, we believe its redevelopment holds the potential to become the new City Center for South Los Angeles, a chronically underserved minority area,” said Capri chairman and CEO Quintin E. Primo III. “The Planning Commission approval represents a milestone for Capri and reaffirms our commitment to diversity and inclusion as we seek to improve each and every community in which we invest.”
There is still some opposition to the project from the community, mainly due to concerns that it will lead to gentrification and displacement, moving out the city’s low-income black residents. The concerns go hand it hand with questions as to whether or not the redevelopment will provide any affordable housing. Capri has agreed to ensure that 10 percent of the new apartments and condos are set aside for low-income earners, said Luci Ibarra, a senior city planner with the Los Angeles Department of City Planning. Ibarra also adds that no one will be displaced since there are no homes at the current site.
“Right now, the city is experiencing an unprecedented need to produce more housing to alleviate pressures [on our existing housing stock],” she told Black Enterprise. “Projects, such as the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, can lead to better housing choices for all.”
To sweeten the pot, the investment firm also agreed with city planners that 25 percent of all jobs created during construction and operation of the new shopping plaza will be offered to local residents. The current anchor stores and retail shops will still operate as the redevelopment begins.