Donald Sterling is considering killing the homeless center he wants to build in Skid Row, saying his proposal has gotten the cold shoulder.
"I want to help the homeless, but I need political support," said Sterling, who declined to comment further.
He could cancel his plans for the homeless center as early as this week.
Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and a local real estate mogul, had planned to purchase a warehouse property at 600 Wall St. for about $12 million and then pour an additional $50 million into the property to build a center that would provide services to the homeless and other residents in and near Skid Row.
Sterling announced the proposed center with several advertisements in the Los Angeles Times earlier this year. But rather than hearing the warm applause of a grateful city, all he's heard is the sound of silence.
In fact, a Los Angeles Times story in June dubbed the proposed homeless center a "mysterious plan."
"What is mysterious about someone wanting to do something beneficial for the community?" said Bradley Luster, Sterling's real estate agent and friend.
"Mr. Sterling is very frustrated with the various political factions that are treating him unfairly publicly," Luster said.
The Mayor's office declined to comment for this story.
Some downtown real estate experts have said privately that they understand the city government is not interested in a permanent resources center that could attract more homeless to the area or entrench the homeless already there.
However, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry said she is interested in such a center.
"We always need people to consider where the gap is in services," said Perry, who represents the area that includes the proposed center's site. "Anytime someone acquires a large piece of property and puts it to use for the surrounding community, I'd consider it a good thing."
Perry said that on Nov. 15 she received an e-mail from Sterling that said he wanted to discuss plans for the proposed center. She said that she planned to respond "affirmatively" to Sterling's message.
"He's a very nice person. I am sure we will talk," Perry said.
Beyond the apparent lack of political support, Sterling has been unable to find a partner that would operate his center.
"It's been very difficult getting a non-profit partner that would be capable of putting a deal together," said Luster, who is president of the Los Angeles-based real estate firm Major Properties.
One obvious candidate to be a partner is the Midnight Mission, which is adjacent to Sterling's proposed center. Currently, the organization is not involved in Sterling's plans, but "they might be back on the table," Luster said.
"They understand the politics to get the deal done," Luster said. He added that if the deal for the property is completed, Sterling would reach out to the non-profit People Assisting the Homeless about a possible partnership.
Officials with Midnight Mission did not return calls seeking comment.
Luster said that Sterling will meet this week with the owner of the site, Tony Ta, to discuss whether to extend escrow on the property or cancel it.
A 60,000-square-foot warehouse is currently on the property, which is a block long at Wall and Sixth streets. The warehouse is used by an import-export company to distribute toys.
The warehouse would be razed in order to build the center, which would include a medical clinic, community court and a work training center, among other features. The center would not include housing for the homeless.
Sterling supports a variety of causes including the Asthma & Allergy Foundation and the Special Olympics.
Luster said Sterling's motive for building the center is solely philanthropic, adding that he wanted the homeless center to be "the first step in leaving his legacy."
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