Hawthorne staging comeback with outlet mall

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Changes are coming to Hawthorne, beginning with an outlet mall on Hawthorne Boulevard. (KABC)

Changes are coming to Hawthorne, beginning with an eyesore sitting on the city's main street.

City officials are hoping to transform Hawthorne Plaza on Hawthorne Boulevard into a destination outlet mall.

"Everyone used to shop and dine here in Hawthorne. It was one of the best places to be in the South Bay," Hawthorne Mayor Chris Brown said.

The city has been working with developer Arman Gabay over the past year on plans for the shopping mall.

"There is going to be everything from high-end to the standard outlet stores, so it is going to be very attractive and it is going to be the only outlet mall for quite a distance," City Planning Director Gregg McClain said.

In the past, Hawthorne's location - near Los Angeles International Airport and west Los Angeles - has helped it thrive. Workers from the booming aerospace industry drove the economy. But when Northrup Grumman and others left, business crashed.

Today, with the recession easing, city leaders say they have a chance to make a comeback. For the first time in six years, the city's budget is balanced and they are operating in the black.

In response, city officials are pouring $14 million dollars into street improvements to boost curb appeal and invite businesses that will also provide much needed jobs.

"That will improve the spending power of the community. And we start a virtuous cycle," McClain said.

The mall is estimated to bring in $6 million to $8 million a year, about a 15 percent increase in revenues. It's expected to open in two or three years, officials said.

Hawthorne resident Ladonna Adams said she can't wait.

"Oh, I would be so happy. I would be the first one in there," Adams laughs.

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