Demolition begins on Marlton Square in South LA

imageA smiling Bernard Parks watched as an excavator dug its claws into a dilapidated building at Marlton Square, marking what everyone hopes will be a real beginning of a new shopping center. The 8th District city councilman has been assuring Crenshaw residents for years that this day would come. But you could forgive residents if they were skeptical.

The 20-acre property has been eyesore for decades. Its sorry odyssey dates back to 1984 when Mayor Tom Bradley called for redevelopment of what was then known as Santa Barbara Plaza.

The development stalled right from the start and ran into a brick wall in 2004 when the development group awarded the contract, Chris Hammond and Capital Vision Equities, defaulted on the project. CVE’s bank then went bankrupt and the property was tied up in bankruptcy court.
Since then, Parks and other officials worked to gather funds for the Community Redevelopment Authority of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) to buy the remaining properties.

“If there’s one lesson to take away from the past decade, it’s the importance of attaining site control before undertaking a project of this magnitude,” Parks said. “This project will have high, high job creation and significant commercial retail development.”

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) called this step a “little miracle” and she praised residents for their patience in putting up with the vacant and rundown condition of the area. From the ground and the air it looks like a bombed out section of city neighborhood.

Several officials, such as Crenshaw Community Advisory Council Chair Joyce Perkins and Kenneth Fearn, Chair of the CRA/LA Board of Commissioners, spoke about shopping at Santa Barbara Plaza when it was a thriving and vibrant neighborhood hub. Sitting next to the Crenshaw Maill with its soon-to-be-renovated food court and the newly refurbished Rave Motion Pictures theatres, it’s in a prime location to again become a gathering spot.

But what happens from here is still a question mark. Parks said that he hopes within the next two months to have some idea of what the project will look like. In the meantime, senior citizen housing at the Buckingham Place Senior Apartments is due to be finished and occupied by February, according to Parks. That project was taken over by Meta Housing from developer Hammond.

Last year and Intersections South LA teamed up last year to produce a comprehensive story on the Marlton Square project. See for more background on the series of stories we produced and see the stories below.

Watch video of the demolition by Walter Melton of LeimertParkBeat.

Ken Beavers, community resident, gives his reaction to the project.