Coalition to Preserve LA Crenshaw Mall

Will Crenshaw Mall Luxury Redevelopment Cause A ‘Gentrification Tsunami’?

In City Hall, Gentrification, News, South L.A. by Patrick Range McDonald

The Crenshaw Subway Coalition predicts that the proposed luxury redevelopment of the Crenshaw Mall will unleash a “gentrification tsunami” in South L.A. So far, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council have not listened to such concerns.

Chicago-based developer Capri Capital Partners plans to build nearly 1,000 market-rate apartments and condos at the Crenshaw Mall, also known as Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, with only a handful of affordable units. The mall stands in the middle of a working-class, historically African-American neighborhood.

The Crenshaw Subway Coalition, a community activism group, and nearby residents fear that the luxury redevelopment will raise rents in the surrounding community and price out longtime residents and small businesses, causing gentrification and what’s known as indirect displacement.

The Crenshaw Subway Coalition recently released a white paper on the luxury redevelopment. It notes: “Gentrification is the greatest threat to the stability of the Crenshaw community. The biggest gentrification project we face is the proposed renovation of the Crenshaw Mall. If this project is built as currently proposed, it would rise up a gentrification tsunami that will push out Crenshaw’s tenants, low-income residents and vulnerable homeowners.”

The Coalition further writes: “To build a massive, market-rate housing project in a neighborhood that cannot afford it is a clear message that the new development is not for existing residents — it is to displace long-time residents.”

In July, the City Planning Commission, whose members are appointed by Garcetti, ignored residents’ concerns about gentrification and approved the luxury redevelopment. City Council members Herb Wesson and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represent the area, support the mega-project. It now heads to the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee.

PLUM should take a long look at the city’s own data on gentrification and displacement. Created by Garcetti’s Innovation Team, the Los Angeles Index of Neighborhood Change (a gentrification database) and the Los Angeles Index of Displacement Pressure show that the area around the Crenshaw Mall is already experiencing gentrification and displacement. The luxury redevelopment will undoubtedly make things worse, as the Crenshaw Subway Coalition points out.

Garcetti, a self-described “high-tech mayor” who loves to tout City Hall apps, has been oddly quiet about the existence of the neighborhood change and displacement pressure indexes. Perhaps because they reveal how City Hall’s planning and land-use policies have been negatively impacting working- and middle-class neighborhoods.

Harvard University, however, recently raved that the databases were excellent tools to help residents and politicians come up with anti-gentrification “interventions.” PLUM and Garcetti now have that opportunity with the Crenshaw Mall luxury redevelopment.

If PLUM ignores residents’ concerns and the city’s gentrification and displacement databases, one must question L.A. politicians’ real intentions for the neighborhood around the Crenshaw Mall. It would not appear to be helping those who are already living there.

Want to be heard on this issue? Contact Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Herb Wesson and City Council member Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

Photo by Crenshaw Subway Coalition