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Rundown South LA shopping mall gets demolished after 27 years

August 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A rundown shopping mall is giving way to the wrecking ball in south Los Angeles.

The demolition was first proposed by L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley 27 years ago. The city purchased the buildings at the Marlton Square Shopping Center, formerly the Santa Barbara Plaza.

The demolition was planned in 1984. And on Thursday the abandoned, run-down buildings are coming down.

"It's been an eyesore sitting here for 30 years," said Congresswoman Maxine Waters. "And finally, finally, the community can rejoice that something is going to get done."

The city hadn't been able to move forward with development because the majority of parcels were stuck in limbo during bankruptcy litigation. There were 200 businesses that had to be relocated and 30 property owners who had a stake.

"It was a daunting task to try to have one sole developer responsible for capturing all of the property that is available," said Councilman Bernard Parks. "But upon default and then, as everything goes wrong, it will, the bank that Capitol Vision was using also went bankrupt."

Parks spent the past five years securing funding for the Community Redevelopment Agency to purchase nearly all the remaining properties, with ambitions to turn this into a shopping center by next year.

But while some saw a decrepit eye-sore, others saw their livelihood.

"Redevelopment to me would mean that you would take the existing businesses and help them to redevelop or give the plaza a makeover," said Keith Jerrels who works and lives on the premises. "Instead, they're removing the existing businesses and turning it into something entirely different and it affects a lot of people's lives."

"I'm sorry for the few people who are still here who have to leave," said Board of Public Works Commissioner Valerie Shaw. "But I think they're going to have to sacrifice for the whole community, for the benefit of the entire community."

It's a long time coming, and now the community is waiting for what comes next.


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