Score one for Keyshawn

New York Jets wide receiver tackles urban renewal

Keyshawn Johnson. For the pro football faithful, the name may bring to mind a brash-talking hothead whose demand to “just give me the damn ball” sparked some ire in the National Football League after only his rookie season. But that was in 1997. Last year, Johnson backed up his big talk on the gridiron and went on to have a Pro Bowl year, helping to lead his team, the New York Jets, to within a slim hair of their first Super Bowl berth in over three decades. But the wide receiver’s growth didn’t just occur on the football field. During the off-season, Johnson helped make an even bigger impact in the community where he grew up.

This past July, Johnson became a minority investor in a $50 million shopping center, Chesterfield Square, that will be erected in South Los Angeles. The neighborhood is an empowerment zone that was marked by the 1992 riots following the Rodney King verdict. Johnson invested nearly $1 million in the project, saying it gave him “great pleasure to invest in a project that will offer great returns and improve my hometown.”

The shopping center is the largest commercial development in South Los Angeles in more than a decade. The new center will encompass approximately 23 acres, and is designed to be a suburban-style center that measures 300,000 square feet. The management group is currently negotiating with large-scale retailers and pharmacies that, if they come on board, will anchor the complex. A Home Depot and McDonald’s restaurant have already signed, while approximately 20 other businesses will be able to lease other slots.

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