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Black Contractors Seek Bigger Business Slice : Even Restoration of Cultural Landmark Done by White Firm, Leader of Minority Assn. Says

August 30, 1987|BUSTER SUSSMAN | Sussman is a Times real estate writer. and

Los Angeles' small black contracting firms and developers want a bigger slice of the real estate pie.

If they accomplish that, they could attain a greater leadership role in the black community and create better harmony between blacks and the real estate industry.

"It's disheartening. Even in South-Central Los Angeles we're a minor factor," said Bill Carlisle, owner of AA Builders and Developers of Los Angeles and president of the Minority Development Assn.

As an example of their problems, he said that the $2.7-million restoration of the Dunbar Hotel Cultural and Historical Museum, a landmark of the Los Angeles black community, at 42nd Street and Central Avenue, is being done by a white contractor.

However, Walter Clarke, community rehabilitation manager of the Los Angeles Community Development Department, noted that black contractors were encouraged to submit bids but that none did so.

Cannot Obtain Bonding

Carlisle asserted that smaller contractors usually cannot obtain bonding on larger projects.

To get more clout, members of the Minority Development Assn. are soliciting support from the real estate industry.

John Mack, president of the Los Angeles Urban League, in an interview voiced support of their efforts. He said that real estate development by blacks can bring economic benefits to the entire community, and that black contractors and developers can be a source of community and industry leadership.

Carlisle said the frustrations of the contractors and developers come at a time of more awareness within the black community of the successes of some black entrepreneurs.

Calls for Bigger Role

He believes that if black contractors and developers can play a bigger role in the real estate industry they can also play a bigger role in the black community.

A white apartment developer in the San Fernando Valley said that the blacks' problems stem "not from traditional racial barriers but from the level of expertise required for success in today's marketplace."

To get needed expertise, as well as capitalization, he suggested that black real estate entrepreneurs organize racially mixed firms.

Another solution was offered by Ted Watkins, administrator of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, one of the largest of the nation's black-run construction and development groups.

Watkins said that small black contractors and developers must organize into groups and not continue to work alone.

To discuss ways of resolving their problems, the Minority Development Assn. will meet Sept. 21 at 10:30 a.m. at the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity house, 1846 S. Crenshaw Blvd.

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