Marlton Square is a one block, 22-acre (89,000 m2), retail and residential area located in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. It is also known as Santa Barbara Plaza. The site has been the center of a long running controversy involving the developer Capital Vision Equities, the Los Angeles City Redevelopment Agency, and the tenants of Marlton Square. It is bordered by Martin Luther King Jr Blvd on the north, Marlton Ave on the east, Santa Rosalia Dr on the south, and Buckingham Road on the west. Across Marlton Ave is the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping mall.
In 2003, developers broke ground in the first phase of the Marlton Square redevelopment project. This phase involved constructing the Buckingham Place Senior Housing project, a 180-unit apartment complex. The project was scheduled to be completed in spring of 2004. Several million dollars of public and private funding have been awarded to the project. Although the redevelopment project began with concerns of political favoritism, it was billed as "the catalytic project for the Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw communities", and a lynchpin development project for the entire area.
While initially promising, financial difficulties and other problems quickly beset the project. Capital Vision Equities' first check to the city bounced in 2001 and the testimony of whistle-blowers lead to an audit by the Ethics Commission early on in the project. Ultimately these problems overwhelmed the developer, and amid complaints of mismanagement the redevelopment of Marlton Square has stalled in bankruptcy. Several other agencies have been involved with the development project, including Keyshawn Capital Development, which is run by pro football player Keyshawn Johnson. The old stores have now been demolished on May 2011. New stores has been planned to be built in the future.
As of the end of 2009 Buckingham Place is largely finished but remains unopened due to bankruptcy. Much of the retail space in Marlton Square has been empty for years and has fallen into disrepair. In 2008 there were no visible signs of redevelopment of the retail space.
- In 2010, Leimert Park Beat: The Soul of Los Angeles partnered with Intersections South LA Report and Spot.us to create the definitive report on the Marlton Square/Santa Barbara Plaza fiasco.