Local News in Brief : Blacks, Developer Settle

A group of black businessmen, who filed a lawsuit in November seeking to halt the construction of the $120-million Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping center, have agreed to drop the suit and acknowledge that blacks and other minorities are being given a fair opportunity to hold jobs, lease stores and invest in the project.

Douglas Roddy, a spokesman for the African Collective, said the group decided to drop the lawsuit “when it became clear” that affirmative action goals adopted by the city, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the developer, the Alexander Haagen Co., were being met.

Attorney Melanie E. Lomax, representing the Community Redevelopment Agency, said that nearly half of all workers on the Crenshaw construction site are black, and that 22 of the 120 stores in the mall will be black-owned. In addition, the city is providing $2 million in loans and has hired a consultant to assist minority businesses.

Despite the progress on jobs and leasing, the city and the developer have not been able to reach an agreement on a key demand that blacks be given a chance to buy up to 50% of the developer’s interest in the 800,000-square-foot mall. Negotiations with a number of potential black investors have broken down.