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Parks Pulls Marlton Square Out of Bankruptcy
By Sentinel News Service
Published January 27, 2011

Marlton Square. Photo by Jason Lewis

Area to be developed. Photo by Jason Lewis

Demolition to Begin Shortly on the former Santa Barbara Plaza, Construction to Restart on Buckingham Place Senior Apartments

Councilmember Bernard C. Parks joined business leaders from across the Eighth District to announce that problem-plagued Marlton Square has emerged from bankruptcy, with a final settlement reached on December 29th, 2010.

“To say I’m thrilled would be the understatement of the decade,” Parks said. “This blighted property has been an eyesore in the community for years. I share the anger and frustration of my constituents at the incompetence and financial mismanagement of past government officials and real estate developers that created this mess.”

Commercial Mortgage Managers (CMM) was selected to act as the servicing agent for over 270 claimants on the parcels in the south and west portions of Marlton Square, which have been mired in bankruptcy litigation for several years. The company plans to raise capital for demolition of the existing structures, which have become a magnet for crime, and then sell the entire property on behalf of the claimants, to a qualified developer.

The only portion of the planned mixed-use development–which was to offer stores, restaurants and market-rate condominiums–that ever commenced construction was Buckingham Place Senior Apartments, envisioned as a three building complex with 180 apartments for low-income seniors. Only one of the three buildings was constructed, but work was ordered stopped when at least three companies forced the property in to involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy, after the developer stopped making payments to construction companies in May of 2007.

The building is over 90% complete, with appliances, carpeting and cabinets already in place, with work remaining to be completed in the hallways, stairwells and trash rooms. In 2010, the City signed a new contract with Meta Housing to complete the project. Construction will commence pending approval from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, which had provided $8.5 million in federal funding, and is expected to create over 65 jobs.

“This community has been promised redevelopment of Marlton Square time and time again, only to be let down by failure after failure. I’m not going to insult my constituents by making more promises,” Parks said.  “They don’t want more promises, they want action.”

Many in the business community think Parks may just have the leadership ability, clout and fortitude to succeed where so many others have failed. He was joined at the Tuesday morning press conference by a wide variety of business and community leaders,
including: Christine Essel, CEO of the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA), Carolyn Hull–Regional Administrator for CRA/LA’s South Los Angeles Region, Mike Jones–President of the Crenshaw Chamber of Commerce, Ken Lombard–President of Capri Urban Partners (which owns neighboring Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Mall), Curtis Fralin-Owner, Mavericks Flat, Walter Cathey–Regional Real Estate Director for Fresh & Easy, Karim Webb & Edward Barnett–Franchisees of a new Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, Brad Johnson, restaurateur and developer of the future Post and Beam Restaurant, Lori Johnson–Vice President, Portfolio Leasing for the Festival Companies and real estate broker Darren Gooden of Bedford Parc.

Their comments suggested a general consensus that Parks understands the needs of the business community and his commitment to creating a friendly business environment has led to the recent development boom in the Crenshaw District.

Capri Urban Partners is investing $30 million into upgrading Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, with an eye toward attracting high-end tenants, as well as investing $10 million into the Magic Theatres next door.

Rave Motion Pictures will operate the renovated theater, which will feature stadium seating and the latest digital technology, which can project in 3-D.

Categories: Local

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