We know commercial real estate in Inglewood. We’ve been buying and selling it since the last millennium. It was a bit of a struggle since the City of Champions lost the Lakers to the Staples Center, but the City of Inglewood is known for reinventing itself.
The history of Inglewood dates back to the original settlers of Los Angeles in 1781, one of whom was the Spanish soldier Jose Manuel Orchado Machado, “a 23-year-old muleteer from Los Alamos in Sinaloa,” notes historian Gladys Waddingham. Legend has it that the new settler were instructed by the officials of the San Gabriel Mission “to graze their animals on the ocean side of Los Angeles in order not to infringe on Mission lands.”
The settlers, or pobladores, drove some of their cattle to the “lush pasture lands near Centinela Springs,” and the first construction there was done by one Ygnacio Avila, who received a permit in 1822 to build a “corral and hut for his herders.”
It is from these settlers, we get the name of well-known Centinela Avenue. It is the name for the hills that rise gradually around the local springs, which allowed ranchers to watch over their herds – the hills were known as centinelas or sentinels.
The area has been ranchland, spa, affluent area, ghetto and the warehouse hob for LAX. Now with the Rams and several new train lines coming to town, the City of Inglewood is expected to come into its own, like neighboring Culver City.
Much of it is thanks to Mayor James Butts, who became mayor in a runoff election in early 2011. Mayor Butts took over with a wealth of experience and a powerful address book. He had been the Deputy Executive Director for Public Safety for Los Angeles County Commercial Airports, successfully commanded a battalion of the nation’s largest airport law enforcement and security organization. Butts oversaw security at Los Angeles International (LAX), Ontario International (ONT), Palmdale Regional (PMD) and Van Nuys (VNY). LAX, ONT and PMD; when combined, these airports serve more than 65 million passengers a year. Prior to that, he was head of the Santa Monica Police Department – so Mayor Butts made some pretty fabulous connections over the years.
He called some of his connections. The first coup was the Fabulous Forum. Built in 1967, it was once the site of Los Angeles Lakers and Kings games, as well as concerts by Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Prince. That was in its glory days. The Forum spent more than a dismal decade as Faithful Central Bible Church, until 2012, when MSG Group – bought the Forum. Also a player in the deal – Live Nation concerts. They paid $23.5 million for the historic but rundown venue with a pledge to spend $50 million restoring it.
Once again a venue for stars as diverse as the Dalai Lama to vintage rockers the Eagles, the Forum has been bringing added visibility to Inglewood. Billboard now rates the Forum as the No. 1 concert venue in events booked in greater LA, the No. 1 in the state and No. 2 in the US.
That was the beginning. In 2013, Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams football team, purchased land in Inglewood large enough for a new stadium. Rumors started to fly…and then beyond hope, the Rams were moving back to L.A.
The $1.5 billion stadium development under way the 298-acre Hollywood Park racetrack is currently called Arroyo Park. It is three times the size of Century City. The stadium is the anchor to the “sports and entertainment district” which is at the center of the redeveloped racetrack. Along with it comes a new open-air shopping center boosting a million square feet of retail and fine dining – that’s an are larger than the Grove. There will be 900,000 sf of office buildings, parks, a lake and up to 2,500 homes. There will be two lakes, four public parks and a 6,000-seat performing arts theater. All is of it expected to open in September 2019.
And there are trains coming. The Crenshaw line will run to the stadium, and there is a line going in near Manchester Blvd. and Market Street that will go to LAX. That transit line brings in more possibility.
Mayor Butts envisions Market Street being like Old Town Pasadena with second-floor residential over first-floor retail space. A developer already has plans in the works for a 177-unit, mixed-use property to be built at the corner of Market Street and Florence Avenue.
The biggest problem will be how to “successfully manage our success,” so the developments coming in are synergistic, as opposed to competing with each other, Mayor Butts says. For now, he says he’s pleased Inglewood is “an extremely safe, progressive city” that’s well-run from a financial perspective. When people heard the name Inglewood, they didn’t think of that before, “but that’s what we are,” he proudly concludes.