South Los Angeles, CA – For the second time in 7 months, the Black community has beaten back efforts to purchase the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza by developers connected to Donald Trump’s family members. Downtown Crenshaw, an effort that combines community action and community development has defeated LivWrk-DFH Partners, which sought to buy the iconic Black commercial center of Los Angeles. Downtown Crenshaw pressured CIM Group to back out of their agreement to purchase the mall in June. Both LivWrk and CIM Group came under heavy scrutiny for their close connection to Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
This is now the fourth unsuccessful attempt to sell the mall in two years. Established in May of this year as a response to the possibility of CIM Group buying the mall, Downtown Crenshaw remains steadfast in its desire to purchase the mall, place it under community control, and redevelop it using principles of community wealth building. Damien Goodmon, Downtown Crenshaw Board Member, 27 year Leimert Park resident and a descendant of Los Angeles’ Black real estate pioneers Charles and L.M. Blodgett said: “The Downtown Crenshaw Rising development team of global award-winning firms backed by the best of investors endeavors to sit down with the public pension funds to identify a win-win solution. Our offer remains 5% over the next most credible offer.”
“This is a tremendous Black community victory and testament to the power of the people,” said Niki Okuk, the Board President of Downtown Crenshaw Rising. “Downtown Crenshaw stood up and defeated LivWrk-DFH Partners, an unqualified out-of-town Trump-Kushner development partner, who sought to do harm to our beloved Crenshaw. On behalf of all of the leaders of this movement, we extend a heartfelt thank you to the nearly 13,000 people who signed our petition and sent in letters, hundreds of community organizations and civic leaders who stood united, and the many activists who took to the streets, from the powerful Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles crew to Grandmamas of Downtown Crenshaw. We have shown that when we come together to defend our community, not even the powerful business partners and close friends of the president’s family can defeat us.”
After Downtown Crenshaw’s $100 million bid to purchase the mall was rejected in favor of LivWrk, the community engaged in direct action against the New York City-based team. The press conferences, protests, and marches, including two demonstrations at LivWrk CEO Asher Abehsera’s Beverlywood home were led by activists committed to defending Crenshaw from the forces of displacement. Black civil rights and business leaders exposed the absence of qualifications of LivWrk to operate and redevelop the Crenshaw Mall. Investigative reporting exposed that contrary to LivWrk CEO Abehsera’s statements, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are current development partners in LivWrk’s handful of projects in New York.
The community-driven effort, is unique in that it is complemented by a development dream team that includes global real estate powerhouses, the largest real estate capital raise firm in America, and three global award-winning architectural firms, SmithGroup (Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture), Mass Design Group (National Memorial for Peace and Justice) and Atelier Cory Henry (Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts).
Ten of America’s biggest names in socially responsible investing said of Downtown Crenshaw plan: “We cannot overstate the enthusiasm among our funds and many of our clients about the Downtown Crenshaw project. Downtown Crenshaw is one of the country’s most exciting prospects for building a just 21st century sustainable community and local reparative economy. It is exactly what we’ve been looking for. Its success would be a model and inspiration throughout America and the world.”
Downtown Crenshaw’s plan and effort has also earned the support of powerful elected officials representing the area, including newly elected LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, outgoing LA city council president emeritus Herb Wesson, Culver City councilmember Daniel Lee, former LA city councilmember Robert Farrell, and former State Senator Isadore Hall III, and expressions of support were conveyed from Congresswoman Karen Bass and LA city councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas.