Our vision and plan

"The ideal is major economic development that is also Black empowerment, two things that have been at odds in the real world for a long time."

-Erin Aubry Kaplan, New York Times 11/8/20

A HISTORIC legacy-defining collaborative project and call for unity and self-determination

On April 29, 2020, the day that the story broke in the news, community-centered developers and civic organization leaders in the community surrounding the Crenshaw Mall began to question how it was possible that the economic anchor of Black Los Angeles could be lost to an outside force like CIM Group. Then someone made a suggestion: “Let’s buy the mall, and redevelop it ourselves!”

What began with a few phone calls grew into the most positively transformative process and project in the history of the Crenshaw community, and the most successful raise for a community-owned real estate project in American history. The historic coming together of community-based and community-focused experts with over 200 collective years of experience in finance, acquisition, and real estate development, collaboratively working with civic leaders and organizers to identify strategies to quickly acquire the Crenshaw Mall and make it a true community-centered development with local ownership at every step of the process.

OUR PLAN for the

When we purchase the mall, it won’t be business as usual. We’re bringing a solidarity economy to Crenshaw that gives us the tools to attack 21st-century problems and care for our community. Our plan includes:

  • Affordable housing
  • Community resources
  • Job training programs
  • Access to locally-grown food
  • Green solutions
  • Worker-owned cooperatives

With ownership over our own community, we’ll build a strong solidarity economy that sustains and builds wealth for the local residents.


A large redevelopment project must share the wealth with the community.

That begins with literal community ownership of the mall.

Working with our #40AcresAndAMall legal team, who are global leaders in community-investment structures, stakeholders will be able to buy shares in the mall and share in the profits generated, and participate in other community investments to build our local economy.

With control of the land in Downtown Crenshaw, the community will be able to guide the developed vision. With strong local hire requirements, the community will participate in the construction & operation of the mall. With local preference for procurement contracts, the dollars generated at Downtown Crenshaw will circulate in the community.


Too often, new housing is built outside the range affordable to longtime community residents. The Downtown Crenshaw team has developed thousands of units of affordable housing, senior housing and mixed-income communities across the region and country. We will build clean, green and modern housing that the community can afford.


Downtown Crenshaw is an opportunity to set a new degree of excellence to prepare the community for today, and the future. We are taking a systems-wide approach to address the community's exposure to environmental hazards, heat island impacts, food deserts, lack of access to green space and community mobility. This includes:

  • Space for two grocery stores (a home for SOLA Food Co-Op), urban garden, hydroponic farming, year-round gardening, local sustainable food sources, & a commercial kitchen for culinary artists & catering chefs
  • A community solar project and shared district energy system to power the surrounding area through a Crenshaw Energy Co-op
  • Sustainable building design including biophilia and embodied carbon via materiality


  • A 6-acre central park for cultural/entertainment events to showcase Black culture and host community gatherings
  • Senior center
  • Day care center
  • Creating a community fund to power community programs and a democratic economy for generations
  • Honoring the Development Agreement, and strengthening the Building Trades & UNITE HERE 11 Agreements


A state-of-the-art entertainment production district, with studios and a new theater

  • Building off of the tremendous power of Black culture, which inspires the world and fuels a global industry, to develop a synergistic Black creative space
  • A training program to prepare area residents for entertainment industry jobs
  • State-of-the-art production studios, recording studios, and new theater


To support the creation and expansion of cooperatives where workers and (possibly) consumers own the business, we are creating the Ujamaa Center for Cooperative Development, and providing an advantage and direct support for cooperative businesses in Downtown Crenshaw.


Building on the successful community- serving businesses operating in the mall, we will attract quality retail tenants to serve our economically diverse Crenshaw community. This includes a hotel, sit-down restaurants, office space to grow Black enterprises, and encouraging the growth of worker-owned cooperatives. We will feature education facilities, business incubation space, and job training programs to prepare local area residents for the 21st century economy.


An international conference, culture and community center

  • A new space for conferences & community gatherings that builds off the mall's existing occupant, the Museum of African American Art
  • Exploring Smithsonian affiliate status


Simultaneous to our effort to redevelop the Crenshaw Mall, we are buying homes, apartment buildings and commercial property in the surrounding area to place them into the Liberty Community Land Trust so they can be preserved as permanently affordable to longtime residents and merchants, and create neighborhood stability.

Our Award-Winning Internationally ACCLAIMED Architectural DREAM TEAM

"We cannot overstate the enthusiasm among our funds and many of our clients about the Downtown Crenshaw project. Downtown Crenshaw is one of the country's most exciting prospects for building a just, 21st century, sustainable community and local reparative economy. It is exactly what we've been looking for. Its success would be a model and inspiration throughout America and the world."

-Ten of America's Biggest Names & Firms in Social Impact Investing

Our inspiration

Our collaborative effort builds off community-centered development strategies successfully implemented and proven in Black neighborhoods throughout the country that were led by the people at the table here.

Market Creek Plaza (San Diego)

Backed by the Jacobs Foundation, the 50-acre Market Creek Plaza development is a national model for community ownership from start to finish.
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Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (Boston)

Responding to decades of neglect, residents came together to implement a national model for community-centered planning and organizing in the Roxbury community of Boston. Paul Yelder, the first executive director of the area’s community land trust Dudley Neighbors, Inc. is a Leimert Park resident is one of Downtown Crenshaw technical advisors.
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Rolland Curtis Gardens (South L.A.)

Rolland Curtis Garden is an inspiring example of a community organizing to take back the land from a powerful developer who sought to displace residents. Malcolm Harris, a Chesterfield Square resident and organizer during that campaign is one of the Downtown Crenshaw technical advisors.
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The Cleveland Model (Cleveland, OH)

In Cleveland, Ohio anchor institutions (hospitals and universities), the government and non-profit organizations are coming together to implement a new model of large-scale worker-owned and community-benefiting businesses.
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“It always seems impossible until it is done.”

— Nelson Mandela

People-driven. Community-focused.
We must own the change.
And our neighbors must be here to enjoy it.