Developer Sassony Properties is breaking ground today on a vacant site in the Vermont Knolls section of South LA that's been sitting empty for more than two decades. The fallow, blighty space housed a swap meet and some retail buildings many years ago, but they all burned down in the 1992 LA Riots, according to Streetsblog; since then, there have been many ideas and plans for the lots at Manchester Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, but no real forward movement. Now, finally, work is beginning to build on the site, but the development, called the Vermont Entertainment Village, is a weird one: a huge, flashy retail and entertainment center that will cover more than two blocks and, judging by renderings, look like a mashup of Universal City Walk and an outlet mall (or just another Grove?).
Paper work filed last year for the project said that it would be two to three stories tall, have a central courtyard (where that Vegas-style "performance plaza" is located), and include a seven-level parking structure—five floors above ground, two below. The project would also have a grocery store (sandwiched in the middle of the above- and below-ground sections of the parking structure), and a banquet hall, according to its website, which shows (presumably speculative) logos for stores including Abercrombie & Fitch, Gucci, American Eagle Outfitters, and Chanel. Renderings show outdoor dining, blindingly well-lit walkways, and live music. A flyer from the office of LA City Councilmember Bernard Parks for the groundbreaking today says the $200-million project will create more than 190,000 square feet of retail space.
Regardless of how weird the development looks, Vermont Knolls residents will likely welcome this kind of large-scale investment in their neighborhood and the transformation of an eyesore lot into a public(ish) space. The groundbreaking on the Vermont Entertainment Village today coincides with the twenty-third anniversary of the 1992 riots, which began on April 29.
The Village is expected to open in winter 2016.
· Long-Blighted South L.A. Lots to See Groundbreaking on Massive Development Wednesday [Streetsblog]
· Vermont Entertainment Village [Official Site]