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L.A. May Aid Crenshaw Project


Los Angeles city and redevelopment officials are proposing to contribute $42.2 million in public funds to help a private developer transform the Crenshaw District's tattered Santa Barbara Plaza into a retail and residential complex.

The aid package, which is considered crucial to any development of the 22-acre property, is scheduled for a vote Wednesday before the Community Redevelopment Agency's Board of Commissioners. If approved, the proposal would go to the City Council for a final decision.

The $125-million project, located immediately to the west of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, is called Marlton Square. It would include 140,000 square feet of new retail space in addition to 140 single-family homes, 180 affordable senior apartments and a small park.

Securing the infusion of public investment is necessary to make Marlton Square, particularly the retail portion, financially viable, said Christopher Hammond, chief executive of Los Angeles-based Capital Vision Equities, which is developing the project in a joint venture with an investment firm owned by football star Keyshawn Johnson. The $42.2 million in public investment in the project includes more than $30 million in federal government housing grants and loans in addition to other forms of financial assistance.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday July 31, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 ..CF: Y 7 inches; 268 words Type of Material: Correction
Crenshaw project--The Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency will review a financial aid package for Santa Barbara Plaza in the Crenshaw district on Thursday. A story in Tuesday's Business section incorrectly said the meeting would be today.

"The question we have received constantly is 'Where is the subsidy?' " said Hammond, whose firm developed nearby Chesterfield Square.

Marlton Square is the most recent in a string of redevelopment proposals for the Santa Barbara Plaza property. In late 1999, the redevelopment agency pulled the plug on a development proposal by former basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson, whose development firm built the successful Magic Johnson Theatres adjacent to the property.

Unlike Johnson's proposal, which was said to have suffered from a lack of political support, the project now up for consideration has the backing of Mayor James K. Hahn's office and that of Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the area.

"Both offices are very eager to see this happen," said Jonathan Kevles, deputy mayor for economic development. "The project as currently envisioned speaks to a lot of needs in the community. That type of development will be much welcomed in the community and will be economically viable."

Capital Vision Equities has teamed with the Lee Group, a housing developer, to build the for-sale housing portion on the southern part of the site and is working on a final agreement with another developer for the retail complex, which would face Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The Marlton Square proposal also calls for creating a retail promenade along Marlton Avenue, which separates the development site from the mall and the Magic Johnson Theatres, to create a stronger connection among the retail centers, Hammond said.

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