8 Years And $45 Million Later, Still Nothing

<p>Efforts to redevelop a blighted commercial plaza in South Los Angeles have proved fruitless -- angering residents who say the city has ignored them and allowed taxpayer money to be wasted. Questions remain about the developer's financial dealings.</p>
May 4, 2008, 1pm PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"It was supposed to have been a model of urban renewal -- a mix of housing and classy stores to replace a decaying 20-acre shopping center at the foot of the affluent Baldwin Hills.

Instead, more than a year after the project was to be completed, Santa Barbara Plaza is a collection of dead or dying businesses surrounding a vast parking lot with weeds pushing through large cracks. Most of the housing was never built; none of the retailers ever came. The largely middle-class, African American area is stuck with a mostly deserted commercial slum.

Los Angeles leaders gambled on a check-bouncing, politically connected developer to shepherd the project. And after $15 million in government subsidies and more than $30 million in private investment, taxpayers -- and the community -- have lost.

"It's disgraceful," said Karen Ceasar, secretary for the neighborhood council at a recent meeting packed with angry residents. She accused elected officials of a "failure to care.""

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Published on Friday, May 2, 2008 in The Los Angeles Times
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