Shauna Robinson signed a 10-year lease at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza for her Total Woman Gym & Spa franchise.

Shauna Robinson signed a 10-year lease at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza for her Total Woman Gym & Spa franchise. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

The revitalization of the Crenshaw district of South Los Angeles has been talked about for decades, but a new light-rail system, surging real estate prices, a new hospital and the $700 million redevelopment of a local mall makes it appear to some observers that the current push to transform the community is different.

Shauna Robinson, the owner of a Total Woman Gym & Spa franchise located inside the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping mall, is one of the believers. Robinson rose through the ranks as a Total Woman Gym sales representative, decided to become a franchiser for the company, signed a 10-year lease at the mall and opened her own business.

The entrepreneurial leap came with some extra risk – malls aren’t the economic drivers they once were, after all. Case in point: Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza’s largest tenant, Walmart Inc., vacated the mall in 2016 and the space remains vacant.

Yet there is a growing belief in the South L.A. community that residents shouldn’t have to drive as far away as The Grove in Mid-Wilshire to shop, Robinson said. Once-overlooked areas of Los Angeles County – from Culver City to Boyle Heights – are turning into go-to destinations, and there’s a sense that Crenshaw could be next.

“Why not us?” Robinson asked.

It’s a timely question – the Los Angeles City Council last month approved the plan of Chicago-based Capri Capital Partners to redevelop the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping mall.

The project aims to add more than 2 million square feet to the 43-acre site, including an eight-story, 400-room hotel, 330,000 square feet of new shops and restaurants, a retail village, a 10-story, 148,000-square-foot office tower and other amenities.

The retail project isn’t alone in glimpsing a different future in the Crenshaw district.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to open next year its Crenshaw/LAX Line, which will run 8.5 miles and connect the Expo and Green lines. It’s a project that has been decades in the making.

Destination Crenshaw, a 1.1-mile outdoor museum intended to celebrate the neighborhood’s rich African American culture and history, will run along the light-rail line on Crenshaw Boulevard between 48th and 60th streets.

Plans were filed last month to build a mixed-use property at 3670 Crenshaw Blvd. with 573 residential units, grocery, retail and restaurants. West Hollywood-based developer Charles Co. is behind that proposal.

Kaiser Permanente opened a four-story, 100,000-square-foot medical office building in Crenshaw in September 2017, designed for treatment of more than 50,000 of the health care provider’s members in the neighborhood.


For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.