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Inside Compton's Plans to Build an Entertainment Complex With Help From Dr. Dre

Compton has one of the richest artistic histories of any place in Los Angeles (which is not short on rich artistic histories), and yet it doesn't even have its own movie theater, and hasn't had one in decades. The city is hoping to fix that, and a lot more, with an "entertainment complex" that would include a youth-focused performing arts center, a multiplex, and a multipurpose hall, plus a 500-car parking structure built in partnership with LA County as a park-and-ride for the Blue Line, according to a city staff report. The city council was set to vote last night on support for the project, which would be built on what is now the parking lot of the Crystal Hotel, which sits directly next to the Compton Artesia Blue Line Station (and the 91 Freeway).

The 6.36-acre site belongs to the same people who own the Crystal Hotel, but they're potentially interested in selling; according to the staff report, the city intends to buy the land and hire a contractor and project manager to build the project, at a total estimated cost of $35 million. Part of that will be covered by Compton's most successful son, Dr. Dre, who's already committed all of his royalties from his last album Compton for the development of the performing arts center (although it's not at all clear how much that might be).

The performing arts center would be 75,000 square feet and have "a variety of utilization options for the community, including but not limited to a Performing Arts Stage, Dance Studio, Recording Studio, Youth Fitness and Homework Center," all managed by Dr. Dre's foundation. The city hopes the center will help "build upon the legacy of locally grown talent and to provide a transformative inspiration for the City's youth." It'll sit by a new 14-screen movie theater and a 50,000-square-foot, two-story multipurpose hall "to host the bingo, community events, and casino operations."

As KPCC points out, Compton hasn't had a movie theater in decades (last year, residents had to go to neighboring cities to see Straight Outta Compton). No one has wanted to build much in Compton—which is about one third African-American and two-thirds Latino, and has one of the higher unemployment rates in the county—in a long time. A member of the Chamber of Commerce tells KPCC that "there's been talk" of opening a theater in town since the late 1980s.
· After decades without a movie theater, Compton could get one [KPCC]