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NAJEE’S NOTES: Community opposes purchase of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza

By Najee Ali

Contributing Writer

Community residents of South L.A., along with a broad-based coalition of civil rights organizations and groups that are located in the Crenshaw area have announced their opposition to the proposal by CIM Group to purchase the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

The announcement that the mall was being purchased was made by Shaul Kuba, co-founder and principal of CIM Group.

His current proposal includes high-end commercial office space only. It has no housing, no retail, no dine-in restaurants and there have been no community meetings to discuss the plans. Kuba and CMI have essentially spit in the face of our entire community, its leadership and L.A. City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents the area where the mall is located.

When I reached Harris-Dawson for comment, he was very concerned about the lack of communication and respect our community was shown by Kuba and essentially stated he didn’t know what was going on with the proposed mall plans and that no one in his office was contacted by CIM concerning the proposal to buy the mall.

As a longtime activist and stakeholder in the Crenshaw/Leimert Park area, this proposed takeover by CIM is outrageous. I, along with numerous colleagues and community residents, continue to support the existing project redesign by Capri Capital.

The existing project is supported by many local residents, community groups and the local City Council office because Capri Capital’s redesign of the mall includes workforce housing, affordable housing, dine-in restaurants, locally owned retail shops and small, minority-owned businesses.

Our coalition of community members and leaders will continue to oppose the proposed takeover of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza by CIM. We want the housing, retail, and dine-in restaurants we were promised.

CMI has not talked or met with any us to discuss the plan because it doesn’t have a finalized plan, just ideas that our community and leadership have not been involved in discussions about.

If this sale is approved as is, it will be the nuclear bomb of gentrification landing in our community, which represents the heart and soul of black Los Angeles.

That is why this writer will continue to help spearhead an effort, along with his colleagues that include Crenshaw Chamber of Commerce President Armen Ross, SCLC President Pastor William Smart, L.A. Baptist Ministers Conference President Rev. K.W. Tulloss, Project Islamic Hope, CAIR LA and a host of neighborhood council and community groups.

CIM has demonstrated a clear disregard for our community. They do not want our input or the input of the elected officials that oversee the area. The Capri Capital project for the mall was presented to block clubs, home onwer associations and other community members for a decade for input.

CIM just announces that plan is being scrapped in a press release without any discussion.

Kuba was quoted in the media that “The planned housing, including affordable housing, in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Master Plan is not suitable.”

We know what our needs are. Housing is critical in our community.

Kuba is an outsider who has not spent one minute in South L.A. Almost half the Crenshaw mall current tenants are small and minority-owned businesses. What happens to them in this new 100% office plan?

South L.A. residents are tired of having to leave their community every time they want go to a nice restaurant, access healthy options or shop at moderate to high end stores. We want the retail and restaurants we were promised. The CIM Group reportedly has been buying up several properties in West Adams and also has been an active player in several deals with President Donald Trump and White House adviser Jared Kushner.

The Los Angeles firm helped Kushner purchase the $340 million Brooklyn Watchtower complex last year, which was sold to Kushner Cos. shortly after Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president. CIM Group has roughly $19.7 billion under management and has been involved in at least seven real estate deals that have benefited Trump and his colleagues.

Trump in my opinion is a racist who has been the worst president in my lifetime any business leader and corporation such as CMI that is in bed with Trump cannot be trusted. If this proposed sale of our mall to CIM is completed, it could be the final nail in the coffin for the African American community of South L.A.

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