Latest bid to buy Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza may be dead

LIVWRK and DFH Partners had agreed to pay $110M for South LA mall in October after CIM Group backed out

LIVWRK's CEO Asher Abehsera and Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (LIVWRK, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw)
LIVWRK's CEO Asher Abehsera and Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (LIVWRK, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw)

Two months after developers appeared set to pay $110 million for the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in South Los Angeles, a deal for the mall looks like it has fallen apart.

In October, LIVWRK and DFH Partners agreed to buy the struggling property from Capri Urban Investors. That came four months after CIM Group backed out of a $130 million purchase for a planned redevelopment of the sprawling shopping center.

Now, Capri apparently is scuttling the deal, according to a source close to the transaction. One of the community groups opposed to the purchase, Downtown Crenshaw, sent an email Tuesday night announcing it had prevented the acquisition, and declaring victory.

LIVWRK and DFH Partners failed to make a payment on the property after 60 days, and requested a 10-day extension after that, according to the source. When that extension expired without a payment, the deal for the 43-acre mall was nixed, the person said.

Messages left Wednesday with DFH, LIVWRK and its CEO Asher Abehsera were not returned. Capri Urban Investors — managed by Capri Investment Group — did not return requests for comment. Capri CEO and co-founder Quintin Primo also did not return messages.

It marks the latest setback for Capri — one of the largest Black-owned real estate investment firms in the U.S. — to offload the mall, which it purchased in 2006. Many local residents have expressed a strong connection to the property, and fear its sale and redevelopment will hasten gentrification.

The mall sits at the intersection of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards in the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw neighborhood, whose population of about 30,000 is 70 percent Black.

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Community groups such as the Crenshaw Subway Coalition opposed the LIVWRK purchase, with advocates highlighting previous deals between Abehsera and Kushner Companies, the New York-based firm that was led by President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, before he became a White House adviser.

Abehsera told the Los Angeles Times in October that, “neither Jared nor my family have any investment in my company or this deal,” and vowing to get community input before a mall makeover.

But Damien Goodmon, executive director of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition and board member of Downtown Crenshaw, did not buy it and expressed confidence Wednesday the deal was dead.

“LIVWRK didn’t pull out,” Goodmon said. “They got canceled.”

CIM’s deal in April to purchase the mall for $130 million evaporated when it backed out in June, saying only that the move would “best serve the community.”

Downtown Crenshaw has itself expressed interest in purchasing the mall, which is open at reduced capacity because of pandemic regulations.

Last year, Capri lost management of real estate investment portfolios of multiple public pension systems including the Los Angeles County Employment Retirement Association. Investors have called on DWS, an asset manager for Deutsche Bank, to act as independent fiduciary for Capri, including on negotiations for the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza sale.