Councilmember Bernard C. Parks Announced Kaiser Permanente Will Be Coming To Marlton Square

Councilmember Bernard C. Parks joined community members and key  stakeholders Thursday, May 31, 2012 to announce that Kaiser Permanente will be the  new tenant for the  long-awaited Marlton  Square redevelopment project.

"Today marks a major achievement for the Baldwin  Hills Crenshaw community," said Parks.  "Twenty-eight years ago, Mayor Tom Bradley  mandated that the Santa  Barbara Plaza be completely rehabilitated.  Now, twenty-five years later, we are here at  the site once known as Santa Barbara Plaza, after many starts and stops to  actually welcome a cornerstone and major tenant of the project Kaiser  Permanente."

Kaiser Permanente has closed escrow on an 8.65 acre  portion of land at 4033-4081  Marlton Avenue with the intention to construct an  outpatient medical office building at this location. They have no plans for a  hospital at this site.

"All of us at Kaiser Permanente are delighted that  escrow has closed.  Now we can begin  planning an outpatient medical office building that brings medical services  closer to our members living and working in the area," remarked Norair  Jemjemian, Chief Operating Officer, Kaiser Permanente, West Los Angeles Medical  Center.

"This announcement fulfills a decades long promise to  the South LA community to provide high quality  jobs and remove blight from the Marlton Square site. The proposed medical  office facility in conjunction with the adjacent senior housing development,  which was recently completed, is an example of how redevelopment has improved  the quality of life for residents and businesses in the varied and diverse  neighborhoods in Los Angeles," said Chris Essel, CEO of  CRA/LA.

Kaiser Permanente is the nation's largest nonprofit  health plan and hospital system, and it provides medical services to more than  three million people in Southern  California.

Councilmember Parks spent years expending significant  time, effort and political capital securing funding for the Community  Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) to purchase nearly all of the  remaining properties.

"This facility will serve many purposes.  It will provide first-class health care to a  community that is sorely in need of care," said Parks.  "It will become an economic engine for new  employees, and provide a customer base for the surrounding shopping centers in  the area."

Parks stated that this recent accomplishment is a  positive sign for future development in the surrounding  area.

"The reality of Kaiser Permanente coming to the  community will give hope to those who for years thought this would never happen,  and it will set the stage for future services and development in our community,"  added Parks.

"While we look forward to public celebrations in the  future, such as the day we officially break ground at this site, we want to mark  this early milestone by thanking the community and its leaders who have been  supportive of this project," said Kaiser representatives.

The sordid history of Marlton Square goes  as far back as 1984, when Mayor Tom Bradley first called for redevelopment of  the shopping center then known as Santa Barbara Plaza. Former LA Laker-turned-businessman  and entrepreneur Magic Johnson won the exclusive right to negotiate in 1996, and  spent five years working with the city through the planning and entitlement  process, only to loose the deal in 2002 to a development group, Capital Vision  Equities, under the direction of developer Chris Hammond. Capital Vision  Equities ultimately was unable to perform their redevelopment responsibilities  and defaulted on the project in 2004.

To further complicate matters, Capital Vision's bank  itself went bankrupt in 2006. The Las Vegas-based USA Capital, had loaned  Capital Vision Equities $36 million to buy up the approximately 50 parcels of  land that made up the project. When USA Capital dissolved, it became the largest  company in Nevada history to go bankrupt, leaving over  $962 million in assets, and more than 6,000 investors.

On December 29, 2010, a settlement agreement was  reached, concluding the lengthy bankruptcy proceedings, leaving one owner –  Commercial Mortgage Managers (CMM) – in control of approximately 80% of the  total property, with the CRA/LA in possession or negotiations with the majority  of the remaining 20% of the land.

CMM is currently in negotiations to sell the  remaining acres of Marlton  Square.  The  CRA/LA and CMM along with input from the council office have accepted a number  of bids for the retail portion of Marlton Square.  The bids have been narrowed down to the best  offers and there should be a developer chosen soon.  The new developer will provide much needed  retail services for the community as well as for Kaiser  employees.

Kaiser Permanente is in the beginning stages of  development, which requires the city to approve its plans before construction  can begin.

"We are now in the beginning stage of a multi-year  process that includes thorough due diligence, environmental review, and City of  Los Angeles  entitlements review for this project. We have not yet submitted any applications  to the City for a project as we continue to consider space planning for the  site," Kaiser remarked in a statement.   "We are looking forward to being a part of the revitalization of this  community."

For the past several years, Marlton stood out like a  sore thumb amidst numerous development projects and neighborhood improvements in  the surrounding community.

- Capri Urban Partners invested $30 million into  upgrading Phase I of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, including a major  renovation of the mall's food court, pedestrian bridge over MLK Jr. Blvd., and a  just recently completed $10 million renovation of the old Magic Johnson  Theatres, which reopened in May, 2011 as Rave Motion Pictures. The new  state-of-the-art theater features stadium seating and the latest digital  technology, which can project in 3-D.

-Over $2 million was invested in the recently opened  Buffalo Wild Wings in Baldwin Hills  Crenshaw Plaza, with over 120 permanent jobs  created, the majority of which were local-hire.

-Restaurateur Brad Johnson constructed Post and Beam,  an upscale sit-down family restaurant in Baldwin Hills  Crenshaw Plaza.

-The MTA's planned $1.7 billion Crenshaw Light Rail  Line will likely spur further development in the area, as well as planned  improvements as part of the Crenshaw Visioning Project. That project, $14  million in Prop 1C funds, will provide street and sidewalk lighting  improvements, streetscape improvements, new bus shelters, bike racks, street  benches and trash receptacles along the Crenshaw corridor.

- In March 2011, Phase I of a planned $22 million  renovation project began on the historic art deco Vision Theater in Leimert Park Village, built in 1931 by real estate  developer Walter Leimert and eccentric billionaire aviator and film producer  Howard Hughes. The CRA/LA purchased the property in 1999, and is working with  Councilmember  Parks and Department of  Cultural Affairs to convert the former movie house into a full-scale performing  arts center.

Click here for a timeline of Marlton Square's development.

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