City, 'Magic' Johnson Group Continue Talks

Negotiations between the city's Community Redevelopment Agency and developers for Earvin "Magic" Johnson to revitalize the Santa Barbara Plaza shopping center in the Crenshaw area continued Friday and are expected to be completed next week, officials on both sides said.

Redevelopment agency officials are expected to report to a Crenshaw community action group Thursday on the progress of talks. The two sides will meet Tuesday to iron out details, the officials said.

"We had a very productive and encouraging meeting today," said Eufaula Garrett, a spokeswoman for Johnson Development Corp. Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes the Santa Barbara Plaza, told reporters he hopes a deal can be reached, but blamed the developers for delaying an agreement. He said developers have dragged their feet in providing the city with an "iron-clad" guarantee that municipal bonds will be repaid.

But sources close to the negotiations said the developers have already given a guarantee and the agency that needs to review the financing. Santa Barbara Plaza, which is adjacent to the Magic Theatres and the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, would become a major open-air shopping center with stores, restaurants and a bank.

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