Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and neighborhood signage (close).jpg
LocationLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Coordinates34°00′36″N 118°20′14″W / 34.010079°N 118.337142°W / 34.010079; -118.337142Coordinates: 34°00′36″N 118°20′14″W / 34.010079°N 118.337142°W / 34.010079; -118.337142
Address3650 West Martin Luther King Boulevard
Opening dateNovember 21, 1947; 74 years ago (1947-11-21)
ManagementCBRE
OwnerHarridge Development Group
No. of stores and services100+ (as of 2021)
No. of anchor tenants4 (2 opened, 2 vacant)
Total retail floor area870,000 sq ft (81,000 m2)
No. of floors2
Websitebaldwinhillscrenshawplaza.com

Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (alternately BHCP)[1] is a shopping mall located in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. This was one of the first regional shopping centers in the United States built specifically for the automobile. Two anchor buildings, completed in 1947, retain their original Streamline Moderne style. Since the mid-1960s, the mall has become a major economic and cultural hub of surrounding African American communities which include a spectrum of socioeconomic classes.

Its remaining anchor stores are Macy's and TJ Maxx after the closure of Sears and Walmart. An additional net 2 million square feet (190,000 m2) of new development was approved by the city in 2018. The approved plan includes apartments, condominiums, a 400-room hotel, office space and additional stores.[2] The mall has been seeking a buyer who would build out the approved plan. The sale has been challenged with community protests including a group of neighborhood activists who made a play to acquire the property and develop it as a community-owned project. In 2021, Harridge Development Group bought the mall for about $111 million.

History

Broadway-Crenshaw Center

The Broadway-Crenshaw Center was the first post-WWII open-air retail complex in the state of California.[3] It was one of the first regional shopping centers in the United States built specifically for the automobile.[4] The center, which opened its doors on November 21, 1947, was anchored by a 200,000 square foot (19,000 m2), five-story branch of The Broadway department store, Woolworth variety store, and Vons supermarket.[5][6] The Broadway Building, designed by Albert B. Gardner, is excellent example of Streamline Moderne architecture.[4] Loading was done below ground via an underground service tunnel stretching the length of the property. The Broadway-Crenshaw Center covered a gross area of 550,000 square feet (51,000 m2) on 35 acres (140,000 m2) with 13 acres (53,000 m2) of parking space for 7000 cars per days along Santa Barbara Avenue (now MLK Boulevard).

Silverwoods opened April 8, 1949, 22,500 square feet (2,090 m2), in size, Albert B. Gardener, architect.[7] More retail stores were added to the complex in the early 1950s and mid 1960s,[6] including a Desmond's department store. A bridge was built across MLK Boulevard (Santa Barbara Avenue at the time) to the north, to the May Company building that had opened on October 10, 1947. The building, although constructed by different parties, is also an excellent example of the Streamline Moderne architecture. The entire 7 acres (2.8 ha) block became part of the mall property.[8]

Major expansion

Renamed Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, the new indoor shopping complex opened its doors to the public with a grand opening ceremony in November 1989 by Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley who wanted to see a major shopping center in the neighborhood.[9] With his encouragement to link the stores into an indoor mall, the mall's size increased to 870,000 square feet (81,000 m2).

The shopping complex had undergone a massive renovation that started in mid-1986. Much of the original building was demolished. A two-level, enclosed regional shopping mall structure was built in its place and included a new Sears as the third anchor. The Broadway and May Company anchor stores were connected with a covered pedestrian bridge over Santa Barbara Avenue.[10] The original May Company building became Robinsons-May in 1993.

On July 12, 1995, the first Magic Johnson Theatres opened as a 15-screen cinema complex. The grand opening featured many well-known celebrity guest such as then Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and others. The mall contains an additional 115 new retail and specialty shops on over 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land which is located in one of the most densely populated and busiest areas in the United States.[11] The original Broadway building became a Macy's in 1996 which closed 3 years later and became a three-story Walmart store in 2001. Lucky's supermarket became an Albertsons in mid-1999 after being purchased by the grocer.

Capri Capital Partners

In early 2005, global investors Capri Capital Partners purchased the shopping mall. In September 2006, the Robinsons-May store rebranded as Macy's, making its second entry to the mall after a 7-year hiatus since the first store closure in 1999. In 2010, the mall owners added a new interior embellishments, a modern and larger food court on the first level. Capri has also redesigned the theme Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Bridge to a glass see-through bridge overlooking Crenshaw Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The windows created a meeting space for events such as various classes, Taste of Soul auditions, and an exercise program for senior citizens.[12] There was also new paint jobs to the Macy's and the now-closed Walmart historical buildings were painted from peach to bright white. New tenants with and after the second renovation included a new Cinemark XD Extreme multiplex cinema, Pink, Victoria's Secret, Forever 21 and Lane Bryant. New restaurants included Post & Beam, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Buffalo Wild Wings. The first phase of renovation was officially completed in November 2011.[13] The original Broadway building which had become a Walmart in 2001, closed on January 17, 2016.[14] On November 7, 2019, it was announced that Sears would be closing this location a part of a plan to close 96 stores nationwide. The store closed in February 2020, leaving Macy's as the mall's only traditional anchor.[15][16]

Mixed-use approval

In 2017, a draft EIR was processed. With city council in 2018, the site received entitlements to transform the shopping mall into a 24-hour mixed-use complex with commercial, office and residential structures.[2] The expansion on the 43 acres (17 ha) site would include: a luxury 400-room hotel and resort, an office tower with a penthouse level, an open-air plaza, mid to high upscale restaurants, acres of public space, a multi-story parking structure and residential units with low-rise condominiums and apartments.[17]

In April 2020, CIM Group agreed to buy the mall for more than $100 million with plans to convert the former Sears and Walmart into offices to drive more foot traffic into the remaining retail stores.[18] There was strong community opposition to their plans which did not include the residential component and the sale was cancelled in June 2020.[2] The mall was closed for much of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[19] A sale to LIVWRK and DFH Partners had been expected to close before the end of 2020.[20] During the transition to a new owner, community leaders and groups have expressed concern about African American ownership and participation in the project.[21][22] The mall has been seeking a buyer who would build out the approved plan but the sale to LIVWRK and DFH Partners was scuttled in December 2020 after meeting with community protests.[23] A local group called Downtown Crenshaw made an offer to purchase the mall through a community land trust but has been turned down.[12] With the assistance of experienced architecture firms, they created a plan that included affordable housing, a healthcare clinic, child care, satellite campuses for job training, conference spaces, and Black art spaces.[24] The group continues to advocate for community based ownership of the mall.[25] An offer from Harridge Development Group for about $111 million was accepted in 2021. They also bought the Macy's department store building in a separate transaction of more than $30 million which gave Harridge control of almost the entire 42-acre (17 ha) site that straddles Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.[9]

Neighborhood

As African Americans began moving to the Crenshaw District and Baldwin Hills in the mid-1960s, the mall has been a major economic and cultural hub of the African American community of a spectrum of socioeconomic classes with a Black Santa Claus and dozens of minority-owned businesses are tenants.[26] In 1976, May Company offered space to the Museum of African American Art on the third floor of what later became Macy's. Samella Lewis, who had founded the museum in 1975, wanted "to provide art services to students, scholars, teachers and lay persons concerned with the art and cultural history of the peoples of the African Diaspora."[27]

The mall has hosted the Leimert Park Book Fair since it began in 2007.[28] The theaters in the mall have screened movies for many of the annual Pan African Film Festival.[29]

The area is becoming more ethnically diverse and gentrified, through redevelopment within the immediate neighborhood and the South Los Angeles area, spurred by the plans for the K Line light rail.[26][30] Martin Luther King Jr. underground station will serve the shopping center and the adjacent Kaiser Permanente medical facility at Marlton Square. It is currently under construction and is slated to open in mid 2022.[31]

References

  1. ^ "Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza partners with 93.5 The Beat FM". www.baldwinhillscrenshawplaza.com (Press release). Retrieved October 9, 2020. Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (“BHCP”) is pleased to announce...
  2. ^ a b c Vincent, Roger (June 15, 2020). "Developer drops plan to buy Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and add offices, not housing". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ Rosenfeld, Dan (July 23, 2012). "Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza  / Architectural sites that define our community". Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2020. Built in 1947, the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza was the first open-air mall in the nation. Originally called the Broadway-Crenshaw Center, the mall was a 550,000-square-foot retail wonder.
  4. ^ a b "Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza". Los Angeles Conservancy. Retrieved October 7, 2020. The Baldwin Hills – Crenshaw Plaza, formerly known as the Broadway-Crenshaw Center, is located at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Crenshaw Boulevards.
  5. ^ "Broadway's New Crenshaw Store to Open Today". Los Angeles Times. November 21, 1947.
  6. ^ a b "History". www.baldwinhillscrenshawplaza.com. Retrieved June 3, 2017. The Baldwin Hills district of Los Angeles developed the Broadway-Crenshaw Center in November, 1947. This center is considered the oldest regional shopping center in operation in the United States.
  7. ^ "Silverwoods to Open New Store Friday". Los Angeles Times. April 3, 1949.
  8. ^ "Opening set tomorrow for May Co. Crenshaw". Los Angeles Times. October 9, 1947.
  9. ^ a b Vincent, Roger (August 26, 2021). "Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza gets a new owner with plans to modernize the center". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 26, 2021.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Mitchell, John L. (November 2, 1987). "Preference for Blacks Sought in Crenshaw Mall Project". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  11. ^ "Magic, Sony to open 12 screen theatre in Los Angeles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Lewis, Jason (December 9, 2020). "Battle for the Crenshaw Mall continues". Los Angeles Standard Newspaper. Retrieved March 25, 2021.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Baldwin Hills mall makeover". www.baldwinhillscrenshwplaza.com. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  14. ^ "Walmart Continues Sharpened Focus on Portfolio Management". news.walmart.com. Archived from the original on January 15, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  15. ^ Tyko, Kelly; Bomey, Nathan (November 7, 2019). "Sears and Kmart store closings: 51 Sears, 45 Kmart locations to shutter. See the list". USA Today. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  16. ^ "4 Southland Sears locations closing as chain continues to scale back". City News Service. November 8, 2019. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  17. ^ Barragan, Bianca (December 23, 2014). "Here's the Huge Plan to turn the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza into a 24 hour community". Curbed LA. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  18. ^ Buhayar, Noah; Wong, Natalie (May 12, 2020). "Who Buys a $100 Million Shopping Mall in the Middle of a Pandemic?". Bloomberg Businessweek.
  19. ^ Gottlieb, Benjamin (May 6, 2021). "A bold plan to buy the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall, redevelop it, and share the profits". KCRW. Retrieved July 16, 2021.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ Vincent, Roger (October 6, 2020). "Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping mall to be sold to New York developers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  21. ^ Bakewell, Jr., Danny J. (October 22, 2020). "LIVWRK Development To Buy Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Mall". Los Angeles Sentinel. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  22. ^ Kaplan, Erin Aubry (November 8, 2020). "Opinion | Black Empowerment Outside the Headlines". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  23. ^ Ellingson, Annlee (December 15, 2020). "Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza back on the market, community activists say". L.A. BIZ. Retrieved January 30, 2021.
  24. ^ Lewis, Jason (October 31, 2020). "Downtown Crenshaw bids for their 40 acres and a mall, but are turned down". Los Angeles Standard Newspaper. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  25. ^ "Press Conference: Black Group Seeking to Buy Iconic Crenshaw Mall to Establish Community Control of Black Space Being Thwarted by Deutsche Bank Racism" (Press release). Downtown Crenshaw Rising. March 23, 2021 – via PR Newswire.
  26. ^ a b Miller, Leila (September 17, 2017). "This L.A. mall is famous for its African American Santa Claus. Can it survive gentrification?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  27. ^ Duersten, Matthew (August 30, 2019). "Welcome To The Museum Of Black Art Tucked Away In A Crenshaw Mall". LAist. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  28. ^ Wappler, Margaret (August 23, 2019). "5 Must-Go L.A. Book Events — From Leimert Park Book Fair to an Ode to Strip Malls". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  29. ^ King, Susan (February 6, 2013). "The world comes calling at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  30. ^ KABC (April 30, 2020). "Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza sold, residential redevelopment plan scrapped". ABC7 Los Angeles. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  31. ^ Ginsac, Ioana (February 28, 2017). "Baldwin Hills is Up for a Makeover". The News Funnel. Archived from the original on August 25, 2017. Retrieved June 5, 2017.