For far too long real estate developers have ignored South Los Angeles. Investment has poured into other neighborhoods across the city, transforming them from places where the sidewalks were rolled up when the sun went down to lively areas where people want to be. All the while the city south of 10 Freeway has been neglected and the infrastructure, most notably the housing options, were allowed to decay.
Now the tide is finally turning and there is significant development activity on the immediate horizon in South L.A. From the Major League Soccer stadium proposed at the site of the Sports Arena to Metro’s building of a new light rail line down Crenshaw Boulevard to LAX, change is beginning to come to South L.A.
We at the Los Angeles Sentinel say it’s about time! We welcome the investment in our community and the improvements to the quality of life here.
The best example of positive change coming to our area is The Reef Project. A residential-retail-hotel development proposed for the vast parking lots surrounding the building formerly known as L.A. Mart at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Broadway, this project is exactly the kind of development that will raise the value of South L.A.
The Reef is a bold mixed-use project in a neighborhood that has not seen much, if any, private investment for decades. For starters it proposes to build 1,444 housing units, without causing the loss of a single home or apartment. That alone will have a tremendous positive impact on our community as any new housing is a net gain.
Then there are the retail spaces it would add, including a much-needed grocery store, pharmacy, and high-quality eating establishments in an area starved for community-serving amenities. Also included in the retail mix are micro-retail units, which are smaller spaces with lower rents that will be leased solely to local entrepreneurs looking to open their very first brick-and-mortar business.
And sprinkled among the numerous buildings that will rise as a part of The Reef Project will be publicly accessible open spaces. These courtyards, patios, and plazas will be available for enjoyment by all South L.A. residents.
In urban planning speak, this is called placemaking. Creating a thriving, exciting destination where people live, work, and play that is also attractive to neighbors from the surrounding area who want to be a part of the excitement. In plain old English, this is called a serious investment into our community that will benefit all of us.
The benefits stem not just from the obvious improvement to the property. This investment, and it is a significant investment estimated at around $1 billion, will create thousands of local good-paying jobs during the construction process and with hundreds of permanent positions once fully constructed. It will also increase property values and encourage others to upgrade their properties and still others to acquire property with an eye toward improvement.
Developments of this nature take a lot of time and serious capital investments before any dirt starts moving. That’s not to say that this will happen overnight and that it will happen without some discomfort. In particular, we fear the quality-of-life disruptions caused by many years of construction. That’s why we demand that the construction process be well managed with minimal impact on neighbors. We encourage the developer to hire African American contractors and sub-contractors when and wherever possible. We encourage them to take a good hard look at the vendors and suppliers that will work on this project to insure that our community receives the full benefit of a project of this nature. This kind of attention to detail will make the discomfort of this project a lot more palatable for the residents of the community. When we see our community working, our community’s discomfort level usually goes way down, because we can see the greater good.
If it is, and we fully expect that will be the case, all boats will rise as a result of this substantial investment.
The Sentinel applauds The Reef Project and urges our city leaders to do the right thing for South L.A. by approving it this project. We applaud Councilman Current Price for spear heading this development, and we trust and fully expect that he and the other members of the council to hold the developers foot to the flame and insure that this project will not only be a community changing project for the neighborhood, but a life changing development for all of those who live in South Los Angeles.