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The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has unanimously approved a proposal for a major redevelopment of the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Plaza, which would add an office complex, a hotel, 1,000 residential units and more than 300,000 units of retail space. The project will be done in phases, and officials expect construction to begin near the end of the year. Completion is anticipated in about six years.

The mall at 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. was originally built in 1947 and was purchased in 2010 by Chicago-based Capri Capital Partners, which has been planning the development since 2014, looking to the Americana at Brand shopping center in Glendale for inspiration.

The mall project would be one of several that local officials hope will rejuvenate the area. Kaiser Permanente is building a facility across the street and a Crenshaw/LAX light rail line stop is scheduled to open near the mall in 2019.

The project will now proceed to the Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee for further consideration. Once PLUM takes up the matter, it will head to the full city council for a final vote. As with other development projects taking place throughout South Los Angeles in recent years, the developer, Capri Capital Partners, will hire locally with a minimum 25 percent of area residents, minority- and women-owned contractors participating in construction.

“The proposed plans for the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Plaza would bring back vitality to the area and turn it into a thriving center,” said Cheryl Getuiza, public information officer for the Department of City Planning. “The project proposes a mixed use of amenities including residential units, office space, restaurants, and a variety of retail. Additionally, the plans call for better connectivity to existing properties such as Kaiser Permanente. And it could potentially attract out-of-town guests with a Metro station on site. It’s going to be a place where people can eat, play and stay.”

A preliminary vision for the site indicates a separate “pedestrian-oriented retail village” where Stocker Street meets Crenshaw Boulevard and feature a collection of one- and two-story restaurants and stores grouped around a wide pedestrian paseo that would connect shoppers to the mall. The area is expected to be liberally landscaped, somewhat resembling The Grove in the Fairfax District. The 12-story hotel tower, with an expected 400 rooms, would be located at Santa Rosalia Drive and Stocker Street and include an adjacent 74-car parking lot. The 14-story office building is expected to be on the other end of the property—where Marlton Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard converge at 39th Street—and include an underground parking garage.

Of the 1,000 residential units, an expected 550 would be condominiums with the remainder composed of one- and two-bedroom apartments. The residential portion is expected to be divided into a pair of five-story buildings adjacent to a set of 50-foot-tall parking structures. In all, about 7,000 parking spots will divide the two sections of the entire site.

The new project is part of an ongoing series redevelopment efforts throughout South Los Angles, stretching from Jordan Downs in Watts north to Exposition Park and beyond. Councilman Marquise Harris Damson (Eighth District) represents the area and has high hopes that this development, and other redevelopment projects nearby, will result in more permanent jobs, better housing opportunities and a new identity for South Los Angeles.

“This development is part of community plan which has been passed to revitalize portions of the Crenshaw District,” Dawson said. “We want to foster more development into the area while keeping in mind the history of the community and the stakeholders who have worked with us and have provided input on the best practices of revitalization. We’re very excited for this project because it will mean hundreds of full-time jobs and improve the quality of life for residents and become a new destination point for visitors.”

Dawson said no nearby residents will displaced during construction, noting that upon completion his office will keep a close eye on the levels of rent charged because of any improvements that may increase property values. “We don’t want any opportunistic landlords to suddenly raise the price of rent because of this and other community improvement projects,” he said. “The residents deserve to remain at their homes and pay a fair price for rent, regardless of any so-called ‘gentrification’ that may be occurring. That is a particular concern of mine, and my office will work to make sure that there is no disruption (i.e. rental increases) to living arrangements among my constituents.”

Dawson added that this development is welcome news to residents of South Los Angeles. From new shopping centers along the Central Avenue Corridor, new secondary schools dotting a once-neglected landscape, to the grand vision of Exposition Park and the new USC Village, positive changes for the better are taking place regularly in the area.

“For so long, South Los Angeles has taken a back seat to other areas of the city that have seen new development take place,” Dawson said. “We’re seeing a complete break from that mindset, but at the same time this and other projects must keep the residents in mind. It is important to include the input of the long-time stakeholders and how they envision these efforts of improvement. South Los Angeles is changing, that’s true, but not at the expense of those persons who have resided or have worked here for so long. It’s an exciting time…and we’re just getting started.”