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LEIMERT PARK : Retail Center Destroyed in Riots Will Be Rebuilt; Tenants Sought

February 02, 1995|ERIN J. AUBRY

After almost three years of vacancy, a Degnan Boulevard retail development destroyed by fire in the 1992 riots is going to be rebuilt.

The former site of Dobson's Market at Degnan and 43rd Street was purchased last year by Community Build, a private nonprofit economic development organization formed after the riots. Construction of a retail center is scheduled to begin in the summer.

Although no leases have been signed, Community Build President Brenda Shockley said she is negotiating with several prospective tenants, including a bank branch, a newsstand, a pharmacy, a coffee shop, a restaurant and a print shop.

"We're very excited about this," Shockley said. "We're making this investment because Leimert Park really needs (an economic) jump-start."

Community Build bought the lot for $285,000. Shockley said construction of the two-story, 13,000-square-foot commercial center will cost $1.8 million and will be funded by the city, a private lender and donations. It is expected to be completed by summer of 1996.

Initial funding for Community Build, long supported by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), came from individual donors. It later received a federal grant of $3 million. Most of that went to job development and training, earthquake assistance and the purchase of a building at Vermont Avenue and Manchester Boulevard for a young-adult employment placement center.

The parcel on Degnan was one of the city's most glaring reminders of the riots, when merchants slept in the streets overnight to protect their property and guard against fires that claimed several buildings on the street's west side, between

43rd Street and 43rd Place. Shockley said that she and other area residents have since been eager to bring in businesses to stimulate the local economy.

"We've got a lot of solid merchants here, but we have some basic elements missing," Shockley said of the area's longtime small businesses and growing arts community. Community Build's headquarters is at 3428 W. 43rd St. in Leimert Park.

She added that the commercial center is being built in harmony with marketing studies that conclude that the area needs additional businesses.

"That's the information we need to get the tenants we want," she said of studies conducted independently and by UCLA's Department of Urban Planning. "We want to come back with something to stimulate business around here."

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