South LA welcomes new retail center

District Square | Photo Credit: KGTY

District Square | Photo Credit: KGTY

A new 300,000 square-foot retail center is set to hit the Crenshaw District and will replace businesses that have been in the community for decades.

The project, titled District Square, is set to replace a Rite Aid, Ralph’s and Cleaners, which have been community staples for over a decade. The two-story center will bring a host of new retailers to the Crenshaw District, which spans over five miles of South Los Angeles. It is expected to include a Target, Ross, Marshall’s and leasing space for other vendors and retailers.

The project manager for engineering company KGTY couldn’t comment on the project’s timeline or budget, but the website confirms that its client, The Charles Company, has designed the location to include both upper and lower level parking with access to retail stores on all levels. Although a deadline for the project’s completion is unknown, community members and leaders have expressed excitement about a brand-new center coming to the dilapidated neighborhood.Tunua Thrash, executive director of West Angeles Community Development Corporation, said she’s excited for the new project and is focused on helping the community through employment.


Construction at Rodeo and Crenshaw for the District Square retail center. Photo credit:  Willa Seidenberg

Construction at Rodeo and Crenshaw for the District Square retail center. Photo credit: Willa Seidenberg

“We are talking with the developer about how to make sure the jobs that become available at the site that the community will have the opportunity to apply for those,” said Thrash. “I was told that they work with the Wilshire workforce center, and I’ve made the request that the developer work with other local organizations including the Los Angeles Urban League to make sure that there is a diverse workforce and a workforce reflective of the local area.”

After researching the staff levels of the expected stores to lease the center the multi-level retail center can accompany over 100 new jobs, though Thrash has yet to receive a response from the developer. But Thrash is confident the community will support the center and hopes this project will help funnel new retail opportunities into the Crenshaw District and other South Los Angeles areas.

“I don’t see this having a negative impact on black owned businesses in the area,” she said. “I don’t see them as having the same product offering and type that would be offered at a center like this. I think that many of the black-owned businesses that have been most successful in the Crenshaw Corridor are food services, and I don’t see this development replacing that.”

The Crenshaw and Rodeo location is home to  businesses such as Havens Burgers, Yum Yum Donuts and King Clean Coin Laundry. The District Square project will take over majority of the intersections developmental land aside from CVS, Beauty Supply and other small businesses located across the street.

District SquareOne business, Earlz Grille, is moving from Crenshaw and Exposition to another location on 39th and Crenshaw due to the pending construction of the LAX metro rail line. Owner Duan Earl is excited for the upcoming retail center.

“As a business owner I think its definitely a necessity to bring  businesses like those into an area of the city  that may be needing help in stimulating economic growth,” said Earl. “Most of the buildings in the Crenshaw area were outdated with landlords refusing upgrades leaving the burden on the renter. The renters usually doesn’t have thousands to spend upgrading someone else’s property.”

The company, which started 27 years ago as a cart on Crenshaw Blvd., transformed into a restaurant only a short block from where the new retail center will be located. Earl expects that the new center will bring much needed traffic to the struggling neighborhood.

“I definitely see traffic increasing, which hopefully means a good thing. More traffic equals more commerce and more jobs in the community leading to growth for the neighborhood,” said Earl. “I grew up in one the roughest sections of Brooklyn and if you go back now the entire city has changed and sometimes change is good. Our Crenshaw district has been neglected for too long and this is way overdue.”

The upcoming project will take years to complete. Along with the retail stores, members of the community hope that this will also improve the workforce and opportunities for employment in the neighborhood. The new transit system will also add some bustle to the area, transporting South L.A. residents and travelers to and from LAX.

Construction is underway, but an official grand opening date has yet to be decided.

For more information, visit the KGTY website.

This story was first published on Neon TommyReach Neon Tommy Managing Editor Jacqueline Jackson here. Follow her here.

Speak Your Mind