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LEIMERT PARK : Architect Pushes Revitalization Plan

March 21, 1993|ERIN J. AUBRY

Architect Michael Anderson says rebuilding the Crenshaw District, an area that keenly felt last year's riots, begins at home--more specifically, in Leimert Park.

"The park is the front yard of the community, and its key to its image," Anderson said. "It's the most feasible place to start."

Anderson, 34, said making over the aging park--a small but visible venue in Crenshaw that has become a hot spot of gang activity in recent years--is a critical first step in launching his four-year plan to redevelop and build businesses in the area.

Anderson's proposal is one of several in the works for redeveloping the Crenshaw area, widely considered to be the commercial and cultural heart of the city's black community. Other efforts include a Leimert Park Neighborhood Design Workshop, begun in October, and the city's plan to redevelop the Santa Barbara Plaza. The workshop staff is putting together a report analyzing community input, while plans for the plaza are being discussed by merchants and the Community Redevelopment Agency.

For more than a month, Anderson has been taking his plan--complete with slide show and a scale model of the park--to community meetings to win grass-roots support.

Anderson estimates that it will cost $600,000 for initial renovations to the park, including razing the existing water fountain and benches and adding rows of palm trees, large expanses of grass and vandal-proof light fixtures.

"The community really needs this concept," Crenshaw resident Joe Hubbard said at a recent meeting at a local church. "The park has been taken over by thugs. The idea needs to be thrashed out, but it's great to have a young, black, ambitious man wanting to create change in the community."

Anderson, a St. Louis native and Southwest Los Angeles resident for 16 years, worked with an urban design firm before launching his own business, Anderson Development Co, in May. Although he had been gathering information on his plan for more than two years, Anderson said, the spring riots motivated him to complete his plans for the project.

Anderson also said he wants to generate jobs by building government offices in Santa Barbara Plaza and turning the medical offices on Stocker Street into a research and medical center that would be a joint venture of local doctors and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

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