Attorneys for the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency have tentatively settled a lawsuit seeking to force the Bank of America to move from a 28-year-old branch office on a prime corner near the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
The agency filed the lawsuit last year after the bank refused to take a $556,000 cash settlement and an offer to relocate the branch to another section of the plaza grounds.
Bank of America officials said they opposed the move because it forced them to trade their high-visibility location for one of several locations offered off the beaten path.
The agreement will allow the bank to stay at the corner of 39th Street and Crenshaw Boulevard. However, the branch will have to undergo a major remodeling to make way for a street-widening project that the agency was seeking.
"It's a win-win situation," said Bill Price, the CRA's assistant project manager for the plaza. "They wanted to stay there. We had offered them a number of different locations elsewhere, but they wanted to stay on the corner. Our position is that we needed to widen 39th Street."
Agency officials say the agreement also saves years of litigation that would have also delayed the construction of a drug store and supermarket near the 800,000-square-foot indoor mall.
Pay for Alterations
The fate of the supermarket and drug store has been a major concern in the Crenshaw community, where residents complain of being inadequately served by major food and drug retailing chains.
The Alexander Haagen Co., which developed the plaza with the CRA, had hoped to locate the stores on the present site of the Bank of America branch. Those plans will have to be changed now that the bank will remain.
The bank will give up the northern 15 feet of its parcel, including a portion of its 9,500-square-foot branch for the street widening between Marlton Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. In return, the agency will pay Bank of America for the alterations needed to its branch, up to $400,000.
The bank, which has 17 years remaining on its lease, will also be given a "reasonable opportunity" to review the plans of a proposed community drug store and supermarket.
The agency's board is expected to act on the tentative agreement when it takes up the matter in about two weeks. The agency's staff is recommending approval of the pact.