Faced with widespread community opposition, Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm CIM Group announced today that it has backed out of an agreement to purchase the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping mall.

In April, CIM announced that it would purchase the 40-acre shopping center at the intersection of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevards.  The developer had proposed to convert vacant sections of the more than 850,000-square-foot mall into offices for rent.

CIM's plans for the site would have eliminated many of the elements of a redevelopment scheme proposed in 2015 by Baldwin Hill Crenshaw Plaza's current owner, Capri Capital Partners.  That project, which was entitled after a multi-year outreach period, calls for the addition of offices to the property, but also a hotel, and nearly 900 condominiums and apartments - a portion of which would be set aside for lower-income renters.

The announcement of the purchase agreement was met with a chilly reception in April.

Los Angeles Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents the neighborhood and advocated for the Capri Capital Partners project, said in a Facebook post "Really?!?!?!"

Several community leaders mounted a campaign to block the sale, launching a Change.org petition that has yielded nearly 10,000 signatures.

“What CIM proposes is a hostile takeover of the most iconic African-American retail space west of the Mississippi River and the construction of a project that would ignore the community’s needs and wishes and possibly wipe out dozens of minority-owned businesses that are now tenants in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall,” said Pastor William D. Smart Jr., CEO and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California on June 3.

The Crenshaw Subway Coalition and several partner organizations countered by launching a campaign to buy the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.  Their effort, called Downtown Crenshaw, proposes to move forward with a development featuring similar components to the Capri Capital project - but under community ownership.

"This is a tremendous Black victory and a testament to the power of our community," said Damien Goodmon, the Crenshaw Subway Coalition's Executive Director.