Shaul Kuba is a principal and founder of CIM Group Inc., a savvy development company that has played a big role in Hollywood's renaissance. Now, CIM has set its sights on the Crenshaw Corridor, where it is co-developing parcels owned by the West Angeles Community Development Corp. into two separate mixed-use projects. In fact, Kuba likes the area so much that he said his Los Angeles firm will develop as much as it can there, despite the negative reputation the area has in some quarters. The Business Journal discussed the challenges and opportunities of the area in a recent interview with him:

Question: What attracted you to the Crenshaw Corridor?


Answer: I think the number one thing is really the density and the low amount of retail it's not balanced. There is in my opinion a remarkable opportunity to create retail. I wouldn't say necessarily upscale retail but more mainstream retail. A lot of retailers have a perception problem with the area. That is something that needs to be overcome.

Q: Do projects along the Crenshaw Corridor pencil?


A: Absolutely. There is a problem in Los Angeles that real estate prices are going up and it doesn't matter whether you are at Mid-City, South L.A., or other parts of the city. Land is becoming more and more expensive. We are looking for other new opportunities that are a little bit more affordable. And the Crenshaw Corridor area certainly in the beginning seemed to have more affordable land. Not so much anymore. That was the first thing we started looking at, at how much cheaper is the real estate. All the grants and all of that it's important but it's not really what attracted us. Not one of the projects we are doing has any subsidies or grants.

Q: Will the light rail Expo Line, which is scheduled for 2010, help attract the sort of retail that the area needs?


A: I don't know that it will necessarily create more of an opportunity for retail. What I think it will do for the area is it will give it more accessibility. If somebody doesn't have a car for a job and now he can hop on a train and go to downtown L.A., to Long Beach, or to Hollywood; it will create more economic growth for the community. It would open an opportunity for people to get to work in a reasonable time. You're hopping on the train and in 10 minutes you are downtown. All of the sudden, rather than people spending money on buying a car, buying gasoline, and paying for maintenance, for $3 a day they can be anywhere they want in the city.

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