By: C. Nash 4 tha People
Residents of the Compton community have seen many businesses come and go throughout the years. Back in the 1960’s Long Beach Blvd was alive and active with multiple car dealerships doing business. By the 70’s those businesses packed up and moved. The community has witnessed Sears & Roebuck transform into the Compton Swapmeet. More recently they watched Circuit City go out of business and the replacement was a Fallas Padres store. Even the Footlocker located in downtown Compton was removed. For a minute it seemed like we would continue to lose all of the contemporary businesses in the city. Then in 2006 ground was broken near the 91 Freeway and by Fall 2007 we saw Target, Friday’s, and even 24hr Fitness enter the Compton Atmosphere. The Gateway Town Center was born and more opportunities for commerce in Compton were created. The construction was mapped out into two phases; Phase II of this project was complete in 2014. The redeveloper on this project is Prism-IQ, Partners, LLC. This agreement was arranged in a meeting that happened in 2004.
The excitement of having a place that made Compton feel like any other city n Southern California was a step up for the community, but what price did we really pay in order to have a Marshalls and Ross within reach? The highlights of this plaza are very blatant and easy to see for some people. Money is being made in Compton. You have the birth of a successful black owned sneaker store in the city, Urban Legends Stadium. You can’t tell me that you aren’t hype that we finally have a Jamba Juice. Even 24hr Fitness can be considered a win for those that would catch the 105 west to travel all the way to Crenshaw and 120th …before they built 24hr Fitness in Carson. You must ask yourself: Did we really need another McDonald’s in Compton? Has anybody stopped to think of the unintended consequences of placing a business like Chipotle in the Gateway Towne Center?
Compton has a large Mexican population and with that, it is expected that we have some authentic Mexican food. The lack of exposure to places like Tacos Mexico on Rosecrans and Sante Fe and Alexander’s Burritos on Rosecrans and Mayo can be crucial for families that are employed by such smaller restaurants. The hype behind Chipotle has created unfair and unkind lunchtime lines during the week. This “franchise” has caused extreme overshadowing of the Mexican food that Compton has offered people for years. These corporate investments in the community can lead to damaging side effects to the city’s culture and it fails to keep our money within our community. It’s great that new jobs have been created in the city, but are these jobs going to the residents of the city?
The T.G.I.Friday’s in the Gateway Town Center can also be considered a win for the city because our community has put their own personal touches on the atmosphere here. The presence of a live DJ and the almost guarantee that you’ll run into some familiar local legends during happy hour is a great reminder of being in the Hub City.
Access to a quality store like Best Buy is also something that the residents can express gratitude for. Now that the Compton Swapmeet has perished and Wal-Mart will soon enter the mix, will there be a new era of community and business relations in Compton? It is a fact that Target and Marshalls have made charitable donations to community organizations, such as Sylvia Nunn’s Angels on Long Beach Blvd and Compton Blvd, which are focused on solving social problems in our community. Will Wal-Mart do the same? Will those donations be a one-time contribution? Lastly, why did they name the plaza “The Gateway Towne Center”? The title has nothing to do with Compton or the Hub City…and who named it that anyway? We definitely should ask ourselves these questions and more so that we can begin to think critically about these changes in our community. If things begin to change without our knowledge and our input, we won’t have a right to get angry if the plans don’t include us. Even worst, we won’t be prepared if the plans are against us.