July 19, 2012
When private citizen Herb Wesson first ran for his 10th District Council office, a constant refrain from the district’s residents was the concern about the lack of healthy food options in the community. With rising rates of obesity and diabetes, he determined that something needed to be done.
A couple of things have changed since then. Wesson is now president of the Los Angeles City Council. And, his district is no longer a “food desert.”
Central to improving the quality of life in the Crenshaw/Jefferson Park area is the new West Angeles Plaza development now under construction at Crenshaw and Jefferson boulevards in the heart of the Crenshaw District.
Under the leadership of Tunua Thrash, and her team at the West Angeles Community Development Corporation, the project has moved forward. The anchor tenants for the $12 million development will be Fresh & Easy, which has leased 14,000 square feet, and Union Bank, which has leased 4,000 square feet. There will be an additional 3,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.
“Our residents shouldn’t have to travel to other parts of the city to buy healthy food,” said Wesson. “We’ve made great progress, and with 150 jobs on this project, this is just the beginning.”
It is the shared vision of Council President Wesson and Bishop Charles Blake, a founder of West Angeles Community Development Corporation, to remake the face of Crenshaw Boulevard, and this is one of the projects that will help achieve that goal, they said.
In addition to the banking facility and the new market, West Angeles Plaza is expected to be a significant economic development catalyst for the area. Another catalyst for the area, say supporters, is the nearby Exposition Light Rail Line that is now up and running. Construction at West Angeles Plaza is expected to be completed in the summer of 2014.
The West Angeles Community Development Corporation, Union Bank, CIM, and the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus program, provided funding for the project.
In recent years, Wesson and his staff have overseen other major improvements at the Ralph’s supermarkets at La Brea Avenue and Rodeo Road; at Pico Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard; and at Western Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard. The first Fresh & Easy Express in the nation is now located at La Cienega Boulevard and 18th Street; and a major rebuild is planned for the Vons at Pico and Fairfax.
The next major food improvement in the area is planned for the $93 million, 300,000 square foot “District Square” development near Crenshaw and Rodeo, where there will be a new Smart & Final, and a new Target. Construction on this project will begin soon.