Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

City Council again OKs controversial South Los Angeles shopping center

September 8, 2010 |  3:19 pm

The City Council gave final approval Wednesday to one of the city’s most contentious development projects — a long-delayed shopping center at Slauson and Central avenues in South Los Angeles.

The action marked the third time the council had approved the heavily subsidized project, mostly recently in July, but in both previous instances the city had to retreat in the face of legal challenges from Stanley Kramer, a scrap-metal entrepreneur who is a former partial owner of the property.

Kramer’s representatives vowed Wednesday to challenge the project anew, alleging that it was rife with fraud, corruption and procedural irregularities. The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency seized the site of Kramer’s former scrap-metal recycling facility to build the shopping center.

City officials have defended the project, which involves some $7 million in public subsidies, as a job-creating boost for a blighted industrial strip, and have denied any irregularities. The 6.5-acre project, conceived in the aftermath of the 1992 riots, is to include a supermarket, drugstore and other retail spaces.

The anchor market has changed from Food 4 Less to Northgate Gonzalez, a Latino-themed concern in a traditionally African American neighborhood that now is home to large numbers of Mexican and Central American immigrants.
The new shopping complex could open by 2012, according to Regency Centers, a Florida-based company that is co-developing the site with Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, an L.A.-based nonprofit. Regency Centers says it plans to invest $15 million in the project and predicts a 10% annual return.

Concerned Citizens would receive a fee of $242,000, said Jenny Scalin, project manager for the city redevelopment agency.

The involvement of Concerned Citizens has heightened controversy since a judge found last year that the group had failed to construct a promised youth center for low-income families on a separate parcel it had purchased with a government grant. Instead, the city attorney’s office alleged, Concerned Citizens left the site “in a blighted state as a bare dirt lot” and sought to make a “windfall profit” through its sale.  A Superior Court judge ruled that the group breached its contract with the city and awarded the city the property’s more than $5 million in market value.

-- Patrick McDonnell at Los Angeles City Hall