City Council approves hotly contested overhaul of South L.A. mall Activists opposed the plan to expand the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, above, fearing it would cause gentrification and displace black residents. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times) The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to approve a hotly contested plan to overhaul a South L.A. shopping center that would triple its size and add hundreds of new apartments and condos, overriding objections from activists who fear it will push people out of black neighborhoods. Supporters argued that Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza needs to become a destination where people can live, work and play in order to survive in the era of Amazon and other online retailers. It has struggled at times to lure shoppers from affluent nearby neighborhoods, and two years ago the sudden closure of a Walmart there stoked fears about its future. But the mall makeover has alarmed and elicited challenges from some neighbors and activists, including the Black Community Clergy and Labor Alliance, the Los Angeles Tenants Union and the Los Angeles Black Worker Center. At a City Hall hearing earlier this month, critics charged that the plan would fuel gentrification and lead to displacement of black residents as rents surged. “What will you say when we ask you, 20 years from now … as to how black L.A. was eviscerated?” said Damien Goodmon, an activist who lodged one of the seven appeals against the project.
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