The Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Plaza mall is 41 acres of prime commercial real estate in the nation’s second largest metropolitan area. When the mall came up for sale last year, a group of residents decided to shoot for the moon and started organizing to buy it, at a price tag now in the nine figures.
If their bid is successful, the residents envision bringing in more locally owned businesses — with a preference for worker-owned cooperatives; adding new mixed-income housing; building a recording studio; and creating new green space on the lot.
They formed a nonprofit entity to take ownership of the mall, called Downtown Crenshaw. Over the past year they successfully rebuffed two bids from outside investors, and at a March 24 press event they went public with the $28 million in donations they’ve raised for a down payment on the property.
Remarkably for a philanthropic effort, they’ve already got the $28 million in the bank, held in trust, ready to wire over at a moment’s notice. But now they’re saying the brokers for the property have stopped responding to them and have instead accepted another bid at a lower price. Downtown Crenshaw says they have enough investor interest to match any legitimate price offered for the property.