Black-Owned Investment Company’s $700 Million Project Will Redevelop South Central, LA

Mixed-use project still needs final approval from Los Angeles City Council

Calling its approval a “milestone,” Capri Investment Group has the green light to proceed with plans to redevelop the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in South Central Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Planning Commission recently approved a proposal by the Chicago-based real estate investment firm to expand and revitalize the shopping mall, located in the neighborhood where the movie Training Day was filmed.

New Housing, Hotel, Retail Stores, and Restaurants

 

A master plan for the $700 million mixed-use project includes adding 961 condos and apartments, a new 400-room hotel, a 10-story office building, retail stores, and restaurants. Additionally, plans call for more than tripling the plaza’s size to over 3 million square feet.

Simultaneously, the project, viewed by some as a cornerstone of rejuvenating Crenshaw Boulevard, faces some opposition from residents and must get final approval from the Los Angeles City Council.

Project supporters contend that with online shopping increasing, malls potentially face closure if they don’t provide places where people can reside, work, and have fun. Backers contend that South Central is worthy of having such an upgraded commercial undertaking like other Los Angeles areas. The existing plaza is called “America’s oldest urban regional mall.”

Potential Gentrification, Dislocation Among Residents’ Concerns

 

Among the concerns residents express is that the project could lead to gentrification and dislocation, potentially hurting black residents from nearby areas with limited financial resources. They fear the redevelopment won’t provide affordable housing in an area already facing a housing crisis.

Luci Ibarra, a senior city planner with the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, stated by email that “City Planning recognizes the importance of preserving this iconic treasure in South LA.” She says her office considered the redevelopment of the site as a way to facilitate its continued presence in the community while addressing the opportunity to provide additional retail/restaurant services and replace surface parking with new housing near public transit.

Quintin E. Primo III, Capri’s chairman and CEO, No. 8 on the BE Asset Managers list with $3.40 billion in assets, told Black Enterprise that Capri has owned the urban mall since 2006 for institutional investors. Capri has sought Planning Commission approval for the entitlements for the past eight years, he says.

(Quintin E. Primo III standing in Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in South Central Los Angeles. Image: Seth Joel)

 

“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,” Primo says.

“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.”

Setting Aside New Homes for Lower-Income Earners

 

Capri has agreed with the city to ensure 10% of the apartments and condos are targeted for people that fall under set income guidelines, a greater percentage than initially suggested.

“We believe that increasing the affordable units to the suggested requirements of the planning commission will not overly impede the financial economics of the project,” Primo says.

Ibarra says the Los Angeles Department of City Planning supports the commission’s requirement to provide 10% of the residential units for very low and workforce housing levels. She added because there are no homes at the site, no one would be directly displaced due to the redevelopment project.

On a citywide level, Ibarra says city planning is well aware of the pressure on our existing housing stock all of its communities face. “Right now, the city is experiencing an unprecedented need to produce more housing to alleviate those pressures. Projects, such as the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, can lead to better housing choices for all,” she says.

Investing in an Area Not Targeted by Traditional Investors

 

Primo is asking Planning Commissioners to offer Capri “flexibility,” stressing that his firm still must raise $500 million to $700 million to complete the redevelopment project in “an area that has been grossly underinvested and underserved” by institutional investors and major retailers.”

All told, Primo expects the redevelopment will cost $700 million, marking the first time that amount of private commercial capital has been invested in South Los Angeles.

“We will create a project that will be worth well over $1 billion over the next five to seven years.” The redevelopment is expected to be completed in that time frame once work begins.

The master plan calls for adding more than 2 million square feet of new space, including the previously mentioned additions. Another amenity will be an open-air retail village with a grand entrance that will provide a stronger connection to the community.

Anchor Stores and All Other Retailers Will Continue to Operate

 

An existing 870,000 square-foot mall and a 15- theater Cineplex will stay open, but some free-standing buildings on the 43-acre site will be torn down.  Two anchor stores, Macy’s, and Sears, plus all other retailers at the mall will continue to operate.

The revamped center will be next to a new Metropolitan Transportation Authority station expected to open by 2019. Capri has agreed with planning commissioners that 25% of all jobs created during construction and operation of the expanded plaza will be offered to local residents.

Primo hopes to get city council approval on the project by late this year.


  • PrincessProphetess

    While the redevelopment project is applauded, many area homeowners have concerns that the new high-rise buildings may obstruct their views. Baldwin Hills Estates/View Park-Windsor Hills are known as some of the wealthiest Black communities in the United States. The homes have beautiful panoramic views of the city and some fear the redevelopment hamper some of the views thus lowering property values. This is a major concern by homeowners in the area although meetings have been held to alleviate these fears.

    • Derrick Callicoatte

      I was born and raised in that area. I currently live in Lemert Park.
      I think this project will be great for us and our community.

  • Dennis Coy Denman

    I think “setting aside homes for low-income earners” is straight BS and this is how investment companies get over on struggling communities. 10% of 961 condos and apartments is just 96 units….we all know these new apts are going to be 1500-2,000/month. Who’s going to be able to afford that? Its Just Gentrification. Goodbye Crenshaw Mall.

    • William E Evans

      I came here to post something very similar to this.I lived at MLK and Rodeo in the “Jungle” for 5 years. If they want to do something. the mall is not the answer . Its fixing up the neighborhood/s surrounding that area. The streets are crap and in need of repaving, the sidewalks are cracked all the of the apartments building int hat area are run down, dirty and crime-ridden. You dong go out after 8pm unless it is to leave the area. Subsidies should be paid to the building owners there to improve the living conditions of the neighborhood. The park after 4pm becomes aq picture right out of the movies showing what “the ghetto” is. Drug use and dealing , gang activity, prostitution, The elimination of the closed up run-down businesses to put in Keiser was a good start but that project has taken YEARS to complete and it is STILL not done. The Alleyways between the streets and apartment complexes are a creature of its own. The activities and crime in those alleys are keeping the criminals in business with 1000’s of gated carports to pick and pillage from. The trash in the streets is horrendous. I’ve seen people drive down the street and toss entire kitchen trash bags of trash onto the sidewalk.

      The above article is all good and dandy but the money is going to the wrong kinds of projects and will only server to line the pockets of the few ritch cats in the area

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