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Reimagining Marlton Square Through Bioscience

Posted on 05/11/2021
City Shot with a long walkway

For the last few decades, plans to redevelop Marlton Square and restore it as a thriving community hub have started and stopped. Since Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas took office, he has been focused on bringing catalytic change to this important CD10 location. In March, he introduced a motion to instruct the City’s Economic and Workforce Development Department to determine the fair market value and purchasing price for the CRA/LA-owned parcels at Marlton Square, with a vision to create a bioscience campus that creates well-paying, career-path jobs for local residents.

“Marlton Square is an opportunity for complimentary development of real estate and workforce. For many years, the empty lot has been a blight in the community. Marlton Square, with its central location and proximity to transit, is an ideal location to grow and diversify the bioscience industry and create high quality and well-paying jobs in the sciences," said Councilman Ridley-Thomas.

Formerly known as the Santa Barbara Plaza, the area was home to over 200 locally owned businesses and major department stores such as Broadway, May Company, and Woolworth's. Over time, investment in the area declined and the property deteriorated, resulting in severe blight by the 1990s. In 1994, The City's former redevelopment agency, the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA) made extensive efforts to rehabilitate the area by establishing the Crenshaw Amended Redevelopment Project. However, with the dissolution of redevelopment agencies statewide, CRA's efforts to redevelop the property never came to pass.

In an effort to reimagine Los Angeles and create opportunities for workforce and innovation, the Councilmember hopes to create a state-of-the-art bioscience campus at Marlton Square that can help to maintain the vitality of the LA’s innovation economy and create meaningful well-paying jobs for home grown talent.

Currently, the bioscience industry in the City of Los Angeles directly employs 21,508 people with annual average earnings of $82,399. The bioscience sector in Los Angeles is anticipated to continue to grow at the intersection of technology, health, and wellness. The combination of research, venture capital and public funding, educational opportunities, and depth of the skilled labor pool make Los Angeles well positioned to continue its emergence as a national bioscience hub.

"Bioscience is a high-growth industry sector that has put Los Angeles on an upward trajectory even in the face of economic headwinds. Particularly, the health and economic impacts resulting from COVID-19, underscore the importance of the bioscience sector in strengthening our city's recovery and promoting healthy communities. The Bioscience Campus could help expand the vitality of the LA's bioscience economy, nurture home grown talent, and contribute to the long-term economic health of the community and City at-large, I look forward to working with my other councilmembers to bring this project to fruition,” said Councilmember Ridley-Thomas.

For more information on the motion, please click here.