Business Lead Story West Edition

Baldwin Hills plaza set for makeover

BALDWIN HILLS — The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza is one step closer to getting a makeover.

After hearing hours of testimony and discussion July 13, the Los Angeles Planning Commission unanimously approved a proposal for a major redevelopment of the shopping center.

The transformative, mixed-use project includes a hotel, an open-air retail village, offices, seven acres of open space, and 961 condominiums and apartments. It will be similar to Glendale’s Americana Mall.

The project is aimed at being pedestrian-friendly and will be steps away from the new Crenshaw Rail Line that is expected to open by 2019.

There has even been a proposal of creating a rail station on site.

A Kaiser Permanente medical center is under construction close by.

The meeting had a large turnout. Supporters of the project believe South L.A. should have the same type of commercial centers as other neighborhoods. Opponents are concerned about gentrification and displacement.

The 70-year-old Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza is on pace for a major makeover after the Los Angeles Planning Commission gave its approval to the plan.
(File photo)

Some locals are worried about the height of the hotel, an increase in traffic and parking problems.

Solomon Rivera, chief of staff for City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson and a Baldwin Hills resident, was in attendance.

“Our role is to try to help facilitate development in our community and we think this is something that is generally great for the area,” Rivera said.

The councilman’s office doesn’t want to “slam the breaks” on development, but they’re looking for ways to do it differently along the Crenshaw Corridor. They’re trying to find local residents to help with the redevelopment.

“The concern is to hire locally,” said Cheryl Getuiza, public information officer for the Department of City Planning, “The project will also create connectivity to existing properties like the Kaiser Permanente.”

Under the initial proposal, 10 percent of the workers hired to build and run the project need to be local hires. However, the commission increased that to a 25 percent commitment.

The proposed agreement also tackled the housing situation. Previous plans had called for 5 percent of the for-sale and for-rent units to be designated workforce housing.

“Per the approval of the Planning Commission, a total of 10 percent of the apartments and condominiums are reserved for workforce and affordable housing,” said Rachel Freeman, general manager of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. “The rest of the units will be market rate. The precise cost has yet to be determined.”

Freeman is affiliated with Capri Investment Group, the current owners of the plaza. This year the property celebrated its 70th anniversary.

According to the L.A. Times, a shopping center opened at the site in the 1940s. In 1988, the center was revamped and renamed Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

The project has the full support of Councilman Harris-Dawson and City Council President Herb Wesson.

“South L.A. needs redevelopment done right, that builds towards the future, in collaboration with current residents,” Harris-Dawson said. “I am committed to addressing housing affordability for local families, increasing access to good jobs, training opportunities for our youth and benefits to the local community for all projects in South L.A.”

The project still needs go before the Planning and Land Use Management Committee of the City Council and then get final approval from the council.