A group of African-American leaders seeks to block the sale of the iconic Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping center, arguing that the proposed developer represents a threat to South L.A. and its economic interests.
They say the CIM Group Inc. has no meaningful ties to South L.A. and has become a major force for gentrification in recent years.
The company is in escrow to buy the site and build a high-rise office complex on the property. It owns billions of dollars of real estate throughout the U.S., including the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, and has received tens of millions of dollars in government loans and tax subsidies for its massive real estate deals.
“What CIM proposes is a hostile takeover of the most iconic African-American retail space west of the Mississippi River and the construction of a project that would ignore the community’s needs and wishes and possibly wipe out dozens of minority-owned businesses that are now tenants in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall,” said Pastor William D. Smart Jr., CEO and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California.
CIM has announced plans to build office skyscrapers on the plaza property. CIM would scrap the popular plan of the current owner, Capri Capital Advisors LLC, one of the nation’s largest minority-owned real estate companies. Capri’s plan, endorsed by local elected officials and community leaders, called for building 1,000 badly needed mixed-income housing units and a 400-room hotel on underdeveloped portions of the plaza property.
In recent years, CIM has become a major landlord and property developer in the West Adams corridor. The plaza property would be the “crown jewel” in CIM’s gentrification efforts in South L.A. warned Pastor K. W. Tulloss, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California.
“Our community is not opposed to outside capital, energy and creativity investing in South L.A.,” said Tolluss. “What we oppose is having our neighborhoods overwhelmed by the insensitive, speculative forces of gentrification that CIM represents.”
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