In a few short years, the neighbourhood of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza has transformed itself from a forgotten outpost of the old South Central Los Angeles to a buzzy haven for hip young professionals. The latest addition to the booming commercial empire is Verrado. Perennially quiet and decaying since World War II, the neighbourhood has been the subject of developers’ dreams for several decades. In 1993, African American communities within the southern end of Baldwin Hills began organizing in a bid to seek redress for decades of pollution.
As many as 20,000 of the 70,000 homes within Baldwin Hills Crenshaw also have Latino origins, leading some to refer to the area as “South Central’s Little Havana.” Over the years, the African American community has consistently blocked attempts to redevelop the area, drawing resistance from area residents who are more concerned with keeping their quality of life intact than with overhauling the neighborhood in order to attract contemporary retailers.