Black community group loses bid to acquire downtown LA Mall despite highest offer

A South Los Angeles community group lost ownership of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, also known as the Crenshaw Mall, after their $115 million bid was rejected last spring, despite being the highest offer, Eater Los Angeles reported Tuesday.

DWS, the mall's current owner and brokerage firm, awarded the mall to the LA-based developer Harridge Development Group, despite Downtown Crenshaw Rising (DCR) raising the fully financed $115 million bid, that included $34 million in philanthropy in the bank, and proposing a plan to preserve aspects of the Black community in the area. 

DCR alleged DWS consistently rejected them in favor of non-Black and non-local developers, which has caused the community to raise questions regarding the area's gentrification, according to Spectrum News.


"It's really about facing gentrification," Damien Goodmon, one of the leaders of DCR, told the news outlet. "We're coming together to assert that Crenshaw will be a Black space."

Crenshaw Mall was one of the first shopping centers in the U.S., making it a historical landmark in the area. The mall was also a place for diversity to flourish. Business owner Malik Muhammad opened a book store, Malik Books, in the mall in 1994, which highlights Black literature. 

"This is more than just a mall. It's a cultural hub," he told the publication. "In this location here, we have a voice."

This was not the first fight the community has participated in to reclaim the mall.

In 2020, development company LivWrk, which is affiliated with Trump's former senior advisor Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerHouse panel tees up Trump executive privilege fight in Jan. 6 probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US prepares vaccine booster plan House panel probing Jan. 6 attack seeks Trump records MORE, placed a bid for the mall, while DCR and other community groups fought to keep the mall under local control. While LivWrk's bid was denied due to pressure from DCR and other community groups, the bid was ultimately awarded to another developer. 

A DCR spokesperson said there is still time to stop the sale in the same manner as LivWrk, according to Eater LA.

However, the sale reportedly closes Friday, causing many local community groups to try to stop the transaction before it is too late. 

Updated 2:59 p.m.