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L.A. Mall Purchase Would Be the Biggest Victory Yet for Community-Driven Development

The Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Plaza mall is 41 acres of prime commercial real estate in the nation’s second largest city. When the mall came up for sale last year, a group of residents decided to shoot for the moon and started organizing to buy it.
April 7, 2021, 9am PDT | rkaufman
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The Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Plaza mall is 41 acres of prime commercial real estate in the nation’s second largest metropolitan area. When the mall came up for sale last year, a group of residents decided to shoot for the moon and started organizing to buy it, at a price tag now in the nine figures.

If their bid is successful, the residents envision bringing in more locally owned businesses — with a preference for worker-owned cooperatives; adding new mixed-income housing; building a recording studio; and creating new green space on the lot.

They formed a nonprofit entity to take ownership of the mall, called Downtown Crenshaw. Over the past year they successfully rebuffed two bids from outside investors, and at a March 24 press event they went public with the $28 million in donations they’ve raised for a down payment on the property.

Remarkably for a philanthropic effort, they’ve already got the $28 million in the bank, held in trust, ready to wire over at a moment’s notice. But now they’re saying the brokers for the property have stopped responding to them and have instead accepted another bid at a lower price. Downtown Crenshaw says they have enough investor interest to match any legitimate price offered for the property.

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Published on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 in Next City
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