2021 Grants Challenge

Downtown Crenshaw Rising

Los Angeles’ Black community has a right to own its future. There is a national groundswell of financial support for Black community ownership of the 40 Acre Crenshaw Mall. The people of Crenshaw have been organizing for a moment like this for decades. Securing this mall will provide a new model of economic development that uplifts instead of uproots the community. Our vision is literal community ownership that will include affordable housing, locally owned commercial space, a 6-acre park, and an arts and music center.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

South LA

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

We are in an unprecendented time with the national/international public conversation only recently highlighting the increasing wealth inequality and systemic anti-Black racism in this country. It is because of this historical moment that finally a project like Downtown Crenshaw Rising can flourish. We are bringing together the best practitioners to the center of one of America’s most rapidly changing Black communities, to establish a new paradigm of development, using proven principles. We are creating permanent affordability in the Crenshaw community with 3 core principles - Community-centered, Community-owned, and Community-wealth building (For us. By us.). Our model is literal community ownership. We are providing the community an opportunity to buy shares and literally own a piece of the project. Now is the time for our #40AcresandMall.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

We will sustain the mall’s existing community-serving businesses and have an intentional strategy to bring home the offices of community-serving and Black businesses. We will apply worker standards throughout (both in construction and in operation) and focus on local procurement to spread the wealth/keep the dollars circulating in the community. The redeveloped space will include: - Training facilities to prepare the next generation for 21st-century jobs and within the entertainment industry. We are advancing conversations with anchor educational institutions, members of local community colleges foundations, and LAUSD to create a pipeline program. - A for consumer-owned cooperative businesses. - Truly mixed-income housing that is mindful of the community’s current economic demographics. Market-rate units will “subsidize” homeownership opportunities for the very low-income (roughly 12-15% of current 90008 residents can afford market-rate units) - A 6-acre central park, a “Commons” for cultural/entertainment events to showcase Black culture and community gatherings. - Space for two grocery stores (a home for SoLA Food Co-Op) - Urban garden, Hydroponic farming, and Year-around gardening - A commercial kitchen for culinary artists and catering chefs

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 30,123

Indirect Impact: 10,004,000

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

The traditional model of “community development” at best provides select individuals or favored organizations an opportunity to sit at a table where ultimate control is maintained by a for-profit developer, whose primary purpose is their personal/investors profit. The client is the community and we are bringing the best developers in the world to execute a people-centered plan. With the land under the control of Downtown Crenshaw Rising, the developers work to execute the community’s vision and can be required to build in the interest of the people, not simply in the interest of the profits of investors. This is an opportunity to realize community ownership, economic justice, and cultural celebration, and can also be a moment to actualize sustainable development. We think in systems, not silos. A systems-wide approach can address the Crenshaw community’s exposure to environmental hazards, heat island impacts, food deserts, lack of access to green space, and community mobility.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

This is a pilot program 100+ years in the making. With the Crenshaw mall, we have an opportunity to thrive and set a new degree of excellence to prepare the Crenshaw community for now and the future. We will define and measure success through community participation, regeneration of the neighborhood, affordable housing, access to green space, and through our programming that focuses on access to skilled jobs.

Which of the LIVE metrics will you impact?​

Access to healthy food

Housing affordability

Resilient communities

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT