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Crews Break Ground On $200M Retail Center At South LA Site Destroyed In Riots

LOS ANGELES ( — A vacant lot that has sat mostly empty since the 1992 Los Angeles riots will be transformed into a $200 million retail center under a construction effort that kicked off Wednesday.

Construction is now underway on the Vermont Entertainment Village project at Vermont and Manchester avenues, which upon completion is expected cover two blocks and about 190,000 square feet with retail and entertainment space, according to developer Sassony Properties.

The exterior spaces of the Village project span over 40,000 square feet of open air promenade offering sitting areas, fountains, kiosks and various entertainment and family events.

Crews To Break Ground On $220M Retail Center On South LA Site Destroyed In Riots
The new two-city-block retail destination center on Vermont Avenue is expected to open in 2016. (Image courtesy Sassony Development)

The groundbreaking coincides with the 23rd anniversary of the L.A. riots, which was sparked by the acquittal of four police officers who were videotaped assaulting Rodney King. They were later convicted of federal charges.

City Councilman Bernard Parks was among those who attended the groundbreaking taking place at the former site of an indoor swap meet that was destroyed by a fire during the riots. Parks was a deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department during the riots.

Resident Walter Ramsey said he vividly recalls the chaos during the 1992 riots.

"I was living across the street, so I got guns pulled on me to stop them from burning down the building that I lived in," said Ramsey. "It was like chaos, but it was something that was unfolding due to time."

The Vermont Village project is scheduled to open in the winter of 2016.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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