The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall in Los Angeles’s Crenshaw neighborhood opened in 1947, one of the first of its kind in the country. Since then, it’s looked like a typical mall, with a sprawling parking lot. But community members in the surrounding majority-Black neighborhood now want to transform the 43-acre site into something different—mixed-income housing, community gardens, and new worker-owned cooperatives, all run by a nonprofit that can return proceeds to the community.
The project, called Downtown Crenshaw, is part of a larger vision that has been in discussion for decades. “We’ve been talking about the need for pulling resources together to acquire real estate to be collectively managed, and to bring in businesses that truly serve the community, that are Black led and collectively minded and community centered,” says Damien Goodmon, a founding board member of Downtown Crenshaw.