A Los Angeles Mall Gets Snarled in Charged Debate Over Local Ownership
The once-grand Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall in Los Angeles seemed like a prime target for investors. That was before it got caught up in a combustible debate over local ownership, race and economic development.
洛杉矶曾经宏伟的鲍德温山克伦肖广场购物中心(Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza)似乎是投资者的首要目标。那是在它卷入一场关于地方所有权、种族和经济发展的激烈辩论之前。
The surrounding neighborhoods offered a potential redevelopment gold mine, including one of the nation’s largest concentrations of affluent and middle-class Black households. In late April, private-equity company CIM Group agreed to pay around $130 million for the property, which fronts on West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
周边社区提供了一个潜在的再开发金矿，包括美国最大的富裕和中产阶级黑人家庭聚集地之一。4月下旬，私募股权公司CIM Group同意斥资约1.3亿美元买下这处位于西马丁·路德·金(West Martin Luther King Jr.)对面的房产。林荫大道。
A month later, the killing of George Floyd sparked demonstrations across the U.S. and energized opponents of the sale. Local activists claimed the deal would displace the mall’s Black-owned stores and lead to higher rents in lower-income neighborhoods nearby. Within weeks, the $29 billion private-equity company backed out of the deal, a swift and surprising victory for opponents.
That was only the start of the story. Homeowners, renters and business owners—including a pair of dueling local groups who hoped to buy the mall—are now divided over what should come next.
The victors proclaimed the canceled sale a sign of the Black community’s growing strength. “We are seeing people who are thinking twice about doing these things, because there’s a big movement going on,” said William Smart Jr., a pastor and head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California. He is part of a group that would like the mall to be locally run and owned.
胜利者宣称这次被取消的拍卖是黑人社区日益强大的标志。南加州南部基督教领袖会议(Southern Christian Leadership Conference)主席、牧师小威廉·斯马特(William Smart Jr.)说，“我们看到人们在做这些事情时三思而后行，因为现在正在进行一场大运动。”他是一个希望购物中心在当地运营和拥有的团体的一员。
Some locals say they would welcome local ownership and the creation of affordable housing, but also worry that setting demands too high could make it hard to re-develop the mall. For many, especially local business owners, the primary focus is seeing the 73-year-old shopping center, which is now pockmarked with empty storefronts, made over and returned to its better days.
Crenshaw Plaza has been a launchpad for minority-owned businesses, said Greg Dulan, co-owner of the mall’s Hotville Chicken restaurant. It was also the economic engine of the community, he said, “and that’s kind of fallen off in the last couple of years.” Like other businesspeople at Crenshaw Plaza, Shoneji Robison, co-owner of Southern Girl Desserts, worries about attracting more customers.
克伦肖广场一直是少数族裔企业的发射台，购物中心霍特维尔鸡肉餐厅的共同所有者格雷格·杜兰(Greg Dulan)说。它也是这个社区的经济引擎，他说，“但在过去的几年里，这一点有点失灵了。”像克伦肖广场的其他商人一样，南方女孩甜点的共同所有者肖尼吉·罗宾逊(Shoneji Robison)也担心吸引更多顾客。
Prospects for the mall are complicated by the troubles of shopping malls nationwide: years of online competition made worse by pandemic lockdowns.
The mall’s current owner is an investment fund, Capri Urban Investors, managed by Capri Investment Group, which has a Black chief executive. Capri didn’t respond to requests for comment. Capri was looking to sell the mall to pay back investors, as it wound up the fund that owns it, according to documents from the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, an investor in the fund.
该购物中心目前的所有者是一家名为Capri Urban Investors的投资基金，由Capri Investment Group管理，该集团有一位黑人首席执行官。卡普里没有回复记者的置评请求。根据该基金的投资者洛杉矶县雇员退休协会(Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association)的文件，卡普里正在寻求出售购物中心以偿还投资者，因为它结束了拥有购物中心的基金。
Like other malls in California, Crenshaw Plaza reopened briefly in mid-June and was ordered closed again in mid-July following a spike in coronavirus infections. It reopened again in October.
“You’ve got an eyesore that’s not making any money. It’s dead,” said Cary Earle, who owns a fast-food restaurant with his brother down the street from the 869,000-square-foot Crenshaw Plaza. “People don’t get it. When you have something like that in the community, where it’s no longer a destination, the businesses in the area suffer.”
“你有一个不赚钱的眼中钉。卡里·厄尔(Cary Earle)说，他和哥哥在克伦肖广场(Crenshaw Plaza)附近的街道上开了一家快餐店。克伦肖广场占地86.9万平方英尺。“人们不明白这一点。当你在社区里有这样的事情时，它不再是一个目的地，该地区的企业就会受到影响。“。
Crenshaw Plaza opened as an outdoor shopping center in 1947. A year later, the Supreme Court ruled that the enforcement of covenants barring anyone other than white from buying homes violated the law. Over the decades that followed, Black families moved into previously all-white areas in Los Angeles County, changing the demographics in many neighborhoods.
By the 1970s, neighborhoods around Crenshaw Plaza had become majority-Black. Ray Charles and Tina Turner were among the Black celebrities who bought homes. The shopping center had stores including Sears and a landmark May Company department store, along with smaller Black-owned businesses. “It’s not just a mall, this is a cultural center,” said Malik Muhammad, owner of Malik Books in the mall.
到了20世纪70年代，克伦肖广场(Crenshaw Plaza)周围的街区已经变成了黑人占多数的社区。雷·查尔斯(Ray Charles)和蒂娜·特纳(Tina Turner)是买房的黑人名人之一。购物中心有包括西尔斯(Sears)在内的商店和具有里程碑意义的梅公司(May Company)百货商店，以及规模较小的布莱克(Black)所有的企业。Malik Books的店主马利克·穆罕默德(Malik Muhammad)说：“这不仅仅是一个购物中心，这里还是一个文化中心。”
Local residents say the opposition to the CIM redevelopment can be traced to the 2008 financial crisis. After a rash of foreclosures, investment firms bought homes in South Los Angeles that they turned into rentals, spreading worries about pricing out local families.
In the economic recovery, the demographics near the mall began turning more affluent and more white, said Paul Ong, director of UCLA’s Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. “I think the big fear was around Crenshaw Plaza accelerating that,” he said.
加州大学洛杉矶分校(UCLA)社区知识中心(Center For Neighborhood Knowledge)主任保罗·王(Paul Ong)说，随着经济复苏，购物中心附近的人口开始变得更加富裕和白人。他说：“我认为最大的担忧是克伦肖广场加速了这一进程。”
CIM had plans to turn part of the Crenshaw Plaza property into offices. Some opponents said that would draw new white-collar workers and drive up neighborhood rents. Others also opposed the company because it had done business years earlier with the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies.
CIM曾计划将克伦肖广场(Crenshaw Plaza)的部分物业改建为写字楼。一些反对者表示，这将吸引新的白领工人，并推高社区租金。其他人也反对该公司，因为它几年前曾与特朗普集团(Trump Organization)和库什纳(Kushner)公司做过生意。
Race became a flashpoint. Some activists demanded the mall have Black ownership. Others disagreed. “It’s not a matter of whether it’s a white owner, or green or Black. Will it help the community?” said Mr. Earle, the restaurant owner.
On June 2, CIM, the group that originally planned to buy the mall, posted a statement on Instagram supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. The company said it would re-evaluate its recruiting and operations “with a clear focus on promoting diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our working lives.”
On June 14, the company announced its exit from the deal. In a written statement, CIM principal Avi Shemesh said that its plans for the mall were “principally designed to bring jobs into the community.”
A group of local residents said in August that they had submitted a bid to buy the mall. The amount of the bid wasn’t publicly disclosed. Their plans were to redevelop it with money from investors and smaller contributions from neighbors. Their idea was to give locals a chance to buy stakes in the project for as little as a few hundred dollars. The group started talks with institutional investors, according to people familiar with the matter.
“Everywhere across the country, no one has solved the gentrification issue,” said Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, who is working with the group.
Taking over the mall property is an opportunity to help ensure that the area’s demographics won’t change, she said, by including apartments affordable to local renters and first-time buyers.
A second group that includes Damien Goodmon, who had been a vocal opponent of the mall’s sale, said it submitted a rival bid. Mr. Goodmon, who said his group, Downtown Crenshaw Rising, has more than 1,500 members, said he wanted most of the new apartments for lower-income renters. Offices and retail space should be affordable for local businesses and cooperatives, he said.
包括达米恩·古德蒙(Damien Goodmon)在内的第二个团体表示，他们提交了一份竞争性报价。古德蒙一直是该购物中心出售的直言不讳的反对者。古德蒙说，他的团体“克伦肖市中心崛起”(Downtown Crenshaw Rise)有1500多名成员。他说，他想要大部分新公寓都是为低收入租客准备的。他说，当地企业和合作社应该负担得起写字楼和零售空间。
Ms. Dupont-Walker and Sherri Franklin, chief executive of community development company Urban Design Center, said they were open to building both market-rate apartments and affordable units alongside a high-quality retail destination.
杜邦-沃克和社区开发公司城市设计中心(Urban Design Center)的首席执行官雪莉·富兰克林(Sherri Franklin)说，他们愿意在建设高品质零售目的地的同时，建造市价公寓和经济适用房。
In a sign of how CIM’s reversal has changed the equation, the property’s brokerage told potential bidders that any deal would require close community participation, said people familiar with the matter. The companies overseeing the sale brought on two local Black real-estate executives, including a former executive of the company that currently owns the mall, to serve as liaisons with the Los Angeles City Council and community groups.
知情人士表示，CIM的逆转改变了局面的一个迹象是，该地产的经纪公司告诉潜在竞购者，任何交易都需要社区的密切参与。负责这笔交易的公司聘请了两名当地的Black房地产高管，其中包括目前拥有该购物中心的公司的一名前高管，担任洛杉矶市议会(Los Angeles City Council)和社区团体的联络人。
Last month, a new group of investment firms, L.A.-based LIVWRK and New York-based DFH Partners LLC, announced they had agreed to buy the mall. People familiar with the matter say the buyers agreed to pay around $110 million, roughly $20 million less than CIM’s price.
上个月，一批新的投资公司，洛杉矶的LIVWRK和纽约的DFH Partners LLC宣布，他们已经同意收购该购物中心。知情人士说，买家同意支付约1.1亿美元，比CIM的价格低了大约2,000万美元。
LIVWRK’s CEO Asher Abehsera said he has been holding meetings with local elected officials and influential residents and plans to allow locals to invest in the project through Ms. Franklin’s group, the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Economic Development Partnership
LIVWRK的首席执行官Asher Abehsera说，他一直在与当地民选官员和有影响力的居民举行会议，并计划允许当地人通过富兰克林的集团鲍德温山克伦肖经济发展伙伴关系(Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Economic Development Partnership)投资该项目。
Ms. Franklin said she quickly realized that locals don’t have enough money to develop a project that could cost as much as $1 billion. She and her partners now want to work with Mr. Abehsera to try to influence what is being built. They are hoping to raise as much as $100 million from local residents to buy a minority stake in the project.
“I can’t say it’s going to be perfect, but 20% or 30% is going to be better than zero,” she said.
LIVWRK, like CIM, has done business with Kushner Companies in the past. “They changed the jerseys at halftime and want us to believe they’re a different team,” said Mr. Goodmon. Local resistance stopped CIM from buying the mall and can do the same with LIVWRK, he said. He still plans to buy the property with local money and other investors.
Mr. Smart Jr., the pastor, said he wants the mall to be “totally Black-owned and community-run” and opposes the buyers in part because their principals are white and have few ties to the neighborhood. He said he hasn’t spoken to Mr. Abehsera yet, but is already working with a group of people, including Mr. Goodmon, to try to block the sale of a property he considers “sacred.”
“We want it all or nothing,” he said.