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Dr. Marcy DeVeaux and Clarence Lutcher in front of their homes in Crenshaw Manors.
The Metro Crenshaw/LAX line project has residents and small businesses apprehensive about the future of the Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw Manor, and Leimert Park neighborhoods.
Barricades, loud and disruptive construction work is underway as the transformation takes place. However the inconvenience of construction has generated discussion about the survival traditional residents and small businesses.
Construction moves forward on the 8.5-mile light-rail line while Pasadena and it’s surrounding communities’ quarrel over transportation alternatives to connect the 710/134-freeway interchange and extension of the LA Metro Gold line.
It’s the tale of two communities bound by a common problem, both are vital portals for mitigating Los Angeles County’s traffic congestion.
Jacquelyn Dupont Walker, MTA Board Director, says the Crenshaw/LAX light-rail project now under construction is very important to our region.
“It offers visitors and residents new choices in public transportation.”
She adds that once completed, it will bring relieve to LA’s traffic congestion.
The Crenshaw/LAX line is an 8-mile extension from the Exposition line south to the Green line Aviation/LAX station. It includes six stations and will travel above and underground.
Some businesses along Crenshaw Blvd south of Exposition may struggle during road construction. Consequently the Metro Business Interruption Fund pilot program was created to offer grants because of lack of traffic during street construction. The Metro Board has authorized $10 million annual to assist small businesses directly affected by rail construction.
Marilyn Brown, owner of Design Studio 27 hair salon, is the first recipient of the Metro Business Interruption Fund. Her business is affected by the construction along Crenshaw Blvd.
Residents in the area have their concerns too. They worried about traffic. Crenshaw Blvd. is a major thoroughfare. If it get’s backed up the overflow is funnel onto less traveled neighborhood streets.
Dr. Marcy DeVeaux has live in the Crenshaw Manor neighborhood for eighteen years.
“The Crenshaw/LAX line is a good thing for the city of Los Angeles but I’m not thrilled about it coming through my neighborhood,” she said.
One of her concerns is the attraction of outsiders into her neighborhood.
Dr. De Veaux is from Boston and a supporter for public transportation.
Clarence Lutcher, a next-door neighbor and resident since 1973, is concerned about whether or not the construction will have an adverse affect on the neighborhood’s property value.
“We are also distressed by street closures due to construction,” says Lutcher.
James Fulgate, owner of Eso Won Books, says having a subway station in the area is “good for business.” For 8 years Eso Won has been a popular destination in Leimert Park and just a half-mile south of the Baldwin Hills Mall.
In addition to the $2.058 billion Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project is a proposal to enhance the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw mall.
Mall owners Capri Investment Group proposes to transform the property into a mixed-use development including new retail stores, restaurants, offices, apartments, condos and a hotel. There is a light rail station currently under construction at the mall’s location.
Ken Lombard, Partner Capri Investment Group, says their goal is to “create a great neighborhood with quality options like other wonderful neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles.”
Presley Burroughs, Crenshaw Manor resident of 29 years, said his neighborhood properties values could rival that of downtown Los Angeles.
“I do not plan to move,” says Burroughs who is more than a casual observer of his neighborhood’s transformation.
Dr. DeVeaux disagrees, and is not terribly optimistic that mall owners will be able to do all of the things they plan. “Two things gave me a moment of pause. One is the proposed office tower at 39th street. That’s less than 100 yards from my front door.”
However as the Crenshaw/LAX line construction project progresses as a persistent 4-decade debate continues to prevent the completion of the SR 710 Freeway extension.
Public comments were emotional last April 13th and 14th at Pasadena’s Civic Center as those who opposed easily out-numbered their opponents. The five alternative proposals to close a 4.5-mile 710 Freeway gap was not warmly received.
Anthony Portantino, former state assembly member, opposes the SR-710 extension and finds the tunnel option is not feasible. “There is no cost benefit analysis, how do we know this project has any benefits.”
Conversely B. Timberlake, of East Los Angeles, says everybody in America benefits from public transportation and freeways. He states the residents of Pasadena, South Pasadena, and Alhambra are able to manipulate the system at the expense of the people of East Los Angeles.
“It’s time for every city to bare part of the burden.”