A little over a year ago, a huge shopping mall project broke ground in South LA. Expected to cost $200 million, the flashy outdoor mall's renderings showed tons of retail storefronts, a grocery store, a parking structure, a large courtyard with a an area for public performances, and lots of well-lit outdoor space for pedestrians. At the time of the groundbreaking, the project was planned for completion this winter.
But that hardly seems possible now, says Streetsblog LA, which checked in on the project to find that it "appears to have stalled almost immediately after the hoopla of last year’s groundbreaking." The lot has been cleared, sure, but the incomplete fencing and scaffolding that went up shortly after the initial ceremony are about the only visible changes to the lot's landscape. "The only activity seen at the site since then has come in the form of sidewalk vendors (at top) and an occasionally large homeless encampment."
The Chief Operating Officer of Sassony Development, the project's developer, told SBLA in April that the developer was facing a lot of hurdles set up by the city in his quest to get building permits, though no such "unreasonable conditions" could be found in city documents relating to the project. (Eli Sasson of Sassony has been involved in unsuccessful attempts to develop the property since 1999.) Other more recent attempts to get real information and updates on the project from Sassony were fruitless.
The project site housed a retail center once before. That one was burned in the 1992 Watts riots, and the lot was blighted and neglected for years after that. The proposal to put something on the property was big news for the community, not so much because everyone needs a mall, but because it meant that the vacant lot would become something useful to the neighborhood, SBLA argues. Now it appears that, once again, the locals are going to have to wait for that to actually happen.