After more than 25 years of abandonment, plans for redevelopment and litigation, construction will finally begin in Marlton Square.
Councilmember Bernard C. Parks proudly announced yesterday during an on-site press conference that Kaiser Permanente will be moving in to the current empty lot.
“Today marks a major achievement for the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw community,” said Parks. “Twenty-eight years ago, Mayor Tom Bradley mandated that the Santa Barbara Plaza be completely rehabilitated.
Now, twenty-five years later, we are here at the site once known as Santa Barbara Plaza, after many starts and stops to actually welcome a cornerstone and major tenant of the project Kaiser Permanente.”
Kaiser Permanente recently closed escrow on an 8.65-acre portion of land at 4033-4081 Marlton Avenue.
“Now we can begin planning an outpatient medical office building that brings medical services closer to our members living and working in the area,” stated Norair Jemjemian, Chief Operating Officer, Kaiser Permanente, West Los Angeles Medical Center.
Parks said the facility will not only “provide first-class health care to a community that is sorely in need of care,” it will “become an economic engine for new employees and provide a customer base for the surrounding shopping centers in the area.”
Marlton Square was previously known as the Santa Barbara Plaza. In 1984, Mayor Tom Bradley first called for redevelopment of the shopping center.
In 1996, former LA Laker and entrepreneur Magic Johnson won the exclusive right to negotiate and spent five years working with the city through the planning and entitlement process, but lost the deal in 2002 to Capital Vision Equities, a development group run by developer Chris Hammond. Unfortunately, Capital Vision Equities defaulted on the project in 2004.
In an interview with Intersections South LA in March of this year, Carolyn Hull, South Los Angeles Regional Administrator for the CRA/LA explained “Marlton Square was a tremendously difficult project to move forward with because of the multiple ownerships…There were over 40 owners and 30 tenants that had to be relocated.”
Another big problem was that the bank that loaned Capital Vision Equities $36 million to buy up the approximately 50 parcels of land, went bankrupt in 2006.
When Las Vegas-based USA Capital dissolved, it left over $962 million in assets with more than 6,000 investors. After bankruptcy settlement agreement was reached on December 29, 2010, Commercial Mortgage Managers (CMM) – became majority owners, with approximately 80% control of the total property, with the CRA/LA in possession or negotiations with the majority of the remaining 20% of the land.
According to Bernard Parks’ office, CMM is currently in negotiations to sell the remaining acres of Marlton Square. Several bids have been submitted for the retail portion of Marlton Square and a developer will be chosen soon.
“We have narrowed it down to two and once we have finalized our choice we will begin planning what will be built on the rest of the remaining land. It is our hope to build sit-down restaurants and shops but nothing is confirmed,” said Parks’ spokesperson Brittney Marin.
While the announcement of Kaiser Permanente’s development of the land is an accomplishment for Parks, the city has to approve the plans before construction can begin.
Here’s a video of the annoucement, by reporter Melissa Runnels:
Here’s a Marlton Square history timeline provided by Parks’ office: