Future of Crenshaw District’s Marlton Square still looks uncertain

An old mural stands out from the rest of Marlton Square. | Daniel Carr- Crawford

An old mural stands out at Marlton Square. See more photos on Flickr. | Daniel Carr-Crawford

Many driving through the Crenshaw district might head straight for the massive Baldwin Hills Mall — or simply pass through on their way to other parts of Los Angeles.

Few notice the massive, weed-filled lot that is Marlton Square, or know about its long history.

Learn more in an audio story from Annenberg Radio News:

The square was a vibrant shopping center in the 1960s, with many upscale stores and nightlife. Now, it is run-down, with abandoned cars and cracked sidewalks giving the area the feel of a ghost town.

Residents of the Crenshaw area want to see improvements and revitalization of the square, but efforts have been slow. Other than a few small businesses including hair salons and a small restaurant, the only development on the square is a senior center on its western edge.

James Burks, director of special projects for the Los Angeles County Department of Cultural Affairs, said he wonders how this was allowed to happen.

“I guarantee that you wouldn’t see this in a place like Beverly Hills,” said Burks. “It makes no sense why this place can’t be better.”

The Flying Fox has been a staple of Marlton Square for years. | Daniel Carr- Crawford

The Flying Fox has been a staple of Marlton Square for years. See more photos on Flickr. | Daniel Carr- Crawford

While efforts have been made to fix up the square, they often have met with conflict.

Redevelopment money was put aside for Marlton Square, also known as Santa Barbara Plaza, in the 1980s, but never saw the light of day. Several big names, including basketball legend Magic Johnson, put forth bids to rehabilitate the area, but the efforts failed.

Two years ago, Kaiser Permanente purchased a part of the square to build a health center. While the community largely supported this move, many still wonder if it will improve the area.

“I’m kind of pessimistic,” said resident David Roy in an audio slideshow he produced for Intersections South LA in 2011. “I’ll believe it when I see it when this place comes around, because it has been this way my entire life.”

Watch David Roy’s audio slideshow from 2011: 

Marlton Square is a 22-acre lot in the Crenshaw District:


  1. DMalcolmCarson says:

    I hate to be critical of a college-based publication, but this article is really weak. Why aren’t there any quotes from the people who are working to develop the parcel into something better?

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