The Real Deal Los Angeles

South LA residents call developer Eli Sasson a “land prospector”

Community is still waiting for the $100 million entertainment project unveiled at groundbreaking ceremony 2 years ago
April 18, 2017 01:45PM

Rendering of the entertainment project at 8400 Vermont

Two years after developer Eli Sasson announced the groundbreaking for a $100 million entertainment development in South Los Angeles, the football field-sized lot — the site of the 1992 Rodney King riots — still sits empty.

“I’ve been here 20 years in June, and [Sasson’s] been showing this [plan] for 20 years,” Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, executive vice president of Community Coalition of South L.A., said to L.A. Weekly. “He’s a land prospector waiting for gentrification to hit this area so that he can make a lot of money.”

Sasson, under his firm Sassony Commercial Real Estate Development, has owned the massive plots of land on the 8300 and 8400 blocks of Vermont Avenue for more than 30 years, its chief operations officer Jennifer Duenas told L.A. Weekly. “We’re still moving forward on this project,” she told the publication, attributing the hold-up to a legal snafu with the now-defunct CRA L.A.

The city has issued multiple citations to Sasson for failure to maintain the vacant lot, including violations from the fire department, department of building and safety, and the department of water and power.

Sasson’s isn’t the only major project to come up short in South L.A. In 2013, a two-story retail center was planned on Crenshaw Boulevard and Rodeo Road, but the anchor tenant has since pulled out, forcing the developers to modify plans.

In South L.A., there are “10 times more groundbreakings than ribbon cuttings,” the district’s former council member  Bernard Parks told the Los Angeles Times in June. [LA Weekly]Cathaleen Chen