Little Tokyo advocates launch community real estate fund

Fund aims to preserve the enclave’s heritage amid increasing gentrification
August 12, 2019 01:00PM

Bill Watanabe, LTCIF’s chairman and president and Little Tokyo

Bill Watanabe, LTCIF’s chairman and president and Little Tokyo

California residents will be able to invest directly into a community-owned and managed real estate fund for development in Little Tokyo, now that it has received final approval from the state.

Through a direct public offering, the Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund (LTCIF) will offer shares directly to local investors, according to Japanese news outlet Rafu Shimpo. The fund will be used to purchase and manage real estate and heritage-based businesses around Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles, and give discretion to its investors.

LTCIF was launched by community advocates in Little Tokyo in response to the rate of gentrification in their neighborhood, as an increasing number of heritage-based businesses have relocated. The rent increases there have forced mom-and-pop shops and Japanese restaurants to leave the area.

Though it isn’t necessarily always based on heritage, similar situations are playing out in other parts of Los Angeles that have seen surges in outside investment. That includes Downtown, Inglewood, Skid Row and South L.A.

More new housing projects are set to rise in Little Tokyo soon. Boulevard Partners is planning a 68-unit project with affordable units and ground-floor retail. And in June, the city council approved a plan by Little Tokyo Service Center and Go For Broke National Education Center to build a mixed-use complex for veterans.

Two public meetings for LTCIF’s offering will be on August 24, at 401 East Third Street — one at 11 a.m. in Japanese and one at 1 p.m. in English. [Rafu Shimpo]Gregory Cornfield