Metro's new light rail stop in Leimert Park could bring an end to L.A.'s historic African American cultural hub. After three years of fighting to get the line to stop in the area, business owners now fear the area will be commercialized. About a dozen of Black businesses in the Village have been notified that their leases won’t be renewed after investors started buying buildings in the area.
Laura Hendrix has owned an art store called Gallery Plus in Leimert Park for 23 years. While the owner of her space has not changed, she says many businesses around her have left or might be kicked out after investment companies recently bought several buildings housing multiple units.
"We are on edge because we don't know what is going to happen to us," said Hendrix. "This is a cultural icon and we worked hard to get it like this and want to keep it that way."
Our Weekly reported that public record shows Robert J. Oshodin purchased a few properties. The purchaser of another building in the block is MBA Mascot LLC. Several business owners believe both properties are owned by the same entity.
Residents and business owners said they heard condos might be replacing the handful of African cultural and retail shops.
A new metro stop could have transformed the area and saved businesses, said Zambezzi Bazar owner Enzinga Kimbro. But now she does not think she will be around to reap the benefits, if there are any.
"we are dead. We get maybe two customers a day and that is not enough to live on, to pay rent with," said Kimbro.
Kimbro pays $1,600 a month and says that high price will force her to close the doors. Many other businesses say they fear the same fate.
"We have the highest concentration of Black businesses [in the city],” Hendrix said. “But we have no idea what is going to happen to us."
See photos of the street and business owners here.
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