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A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge has cleared the way for the County to seize a blighted property in South Los Angeles through eminent domain, according to an announcement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The Vermont Manchester site, located on the 8400 and 8500 blocks of South Vermont Avenue, is partially owned by local property Eli Sasson, who has left the property vacant since 1992.  With Sasson's proposal to construct an open-air shopping center on the property showing no evident signs of progress, the County announced its intention in 2017 to condemn the approximately 4.2-acre site at a cost of $15.7 million.

Ridley-Thomas' office unveiled plans earlier this year to construct a mixed-use project across the empty site that would include a pair of six-story buildings featuring 180 affordable housing units, 50,000 square feet of retail, and a boarding school with 200 dorm rooms.  Plans also call for a 52,000-square-foot transit plaza fronting Vermont Avenue, where a new bus rapid transit line is proposed, and 20 apartments for faculty members at the boarding school.

KFA Architecture is designing the project, which is portrayed as a series of podium-type buildings wrapped around elevated courtyards.

In the announcement, Thomas states that the proposed boarding school would serve as a vocational and preparatory academy catering to students from the County's child welfare and juvenile justice systems, as well as children from the surrounding community.  The school would prepare its students for careers in the transportation industry, a nod to the planned expansion of L.A. County's bus and rail network following the passage of the Measure M sales tax initiative.

News of the court decision was first reported by Streetsblog.

Rendering of the Vermont Manchester development. Image via KFA Architecture.
Rendering of the Vermont Manchester development. Image via KFA Architecture.
Rendering of the Vermont Manchester development. Image via KFA Architecture.
Rendering of the Vermont Manchester development. Image via KFA Architecture.
Rendering of the Vermont Manchester development. Image via KFA Architecture.

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