Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall: Who will buy it and revitalize it?

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The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall has no traffic these days, and many businesses there are struggling. May 3, 2021. Photo by Amy Ta.

There’s a bold plan in LA’s Crenshaw neighborhood to purchase the local mall for north of $100 million and let the community profit from its redevelopment. The idea has a lot of support from business owners and residents. But the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall’s owners, lenders, and some community leaders aren’t convinced.

“When someone comes in from the outside and [has] a completely different agenda, it might not be what’s best for the neighborhood,” says Malik Muhammad, who has owned and operated Malik’s Books at the Crenshaw Mall since the early 1990s. “It might be a plan to gentrify, uproot and push [us] out. … We need to develop our own communities.”

Enter Downtown Crenshaw Rising, a community effort to buy the mall, redevelop it, and let the neighborhood profit from its economic revitalization. “We heard that the plan was to build luxury condos and townhouses here. We knew that we had to draw a line in the sand and really stop that type of gentrification from happening,” says Niki Okuk, a local entrepreneur and board president with Downtown Crenshaw.