June 07, 2012
By Brian W. Carter,
Sentinel Staff Writer
Marlton Square — the story is a long and twisting tale going all the way back to a time when it didn’t exist. As former Congresswoman Diane Watson mentioned at the Marlton Square Conference on Thurs., May 31, this area wasn’t even as diversified as it is now. The 20-acre site is now in the process of sprouting new wings and taking flight after its long and arduous journey.
Starting in the early ‘80s, the one-time Santa Barbara Plaza had begun its early trek into dilapidation. At the time, then Mayor Tom Bradley had started the ball rolling with a call for renovations of the area. The ball would slow down over time and roll into the hands of former Lakers and present businessman/entrepreneur, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, in the mid 90’s. Johnson would miss the shot in ’02 with the development group Capital Vision Equities (CVE).
The development group would eventually lose the vision to bring Marlton Square back to fruition when they defaulted on the project in 2004. Further complications ensued when CVE went bankrupt in 2006. In December 2010, the dust began to clear and one owner was left standing: Commercial Mortgage Managers (CMM).
Together with Councilmember Bernard Parks and the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA), CMM is moving forward with the awaited redevelopment. The official demolition process began in late summer of 2011.
Last Thursday, CMM, CRA/LA and Parks announced a new tenant to Marlton Square — Kaiser Permanente as they welcomed them on the proposed site. Kaiser has closed escrow on 8.65 acres of land at 4033-4081 Marlton Avenue with the intention of opening an outpatient medical office building.
“This is the real deal,” said Parks.” This is going to happen.”
Parks continued, “We are so pleased to be here today and to bring to this community what [it] deserves.”
Parks took a moment to acknowledge all the labor, patience, love and time it took to give Marlton Square its wings. There were remarks given by Watson; Richard Benbow, general manager CDD; Commissioner Valerie Shaw; David Rentz, CMM; and other guests, staff members and community members.
“This has been a journey since 2003 for us,” said Parks on behalf of his staff and himself. From scrambling with developers, going through default and bankruptcy, Parks spoke about how their hands were tied when it came to moving forward in the past with Marlton Square’s redevelopment — but that’s not the case anymore.
“When we talked to Kaiser, they said the reason this site was so important for them is because — it’s in the heart of their membership pool and it’s also in the heart of [a] community, which needs medical insurance,” said Parks.
Many thanks went to Parks, his staff members, the late Tom Bradley who started the project of redeveloping Marlton Square, regional administrator of the CRA/LA, Carolyn Hull and CEO, Chris Essel, and CB Richard Ellis real estate broker, Jamie Brooks, who was pivotal in securing Kaiser as a tenant.
“The Kaiser development is going to be the linchpin and the anchor that draws a phenomenal development that’s going to stimulate economic growth in this area that is well deserved,” said Brooks. “We’re humbled and excited to be apart of the project.”
“This is a great day for all of us,” said Hull. “Because this is the one project I really needed to get done.”
Marlton Square has taken flight and is in the air!