HAWTHORNE (CBSLA) — The City of Hawthorne has filed a nuisance abatement lawsuit against the owner of the Hawthorne Mall, alleging the long-closed shopping center is a blight and a danger to the community.
Once known as the Hawthorne Plaza Shopping Center, city officials say the famously dead mall has become a magnet for illegal dumping, graffiti, homeless encampments, and hazardous conditions including exposed plumbing and electricity.
"There is a significant safety threat that needs immediate attention, as evidenced by the repeat transient and children break-ins, among a host of other dangers," a statement from the City of Hawthorne said about the lawsuit, filed on Nov. 24.
The shopping center opened in 1977 along Hawthorne Boulevard between 120th Street and El Segundo Boulevard. It began to decline in the 1980s and 1990s, and lost its last big retailer in JC Penney in 1998. And while there are no longer any retail shops in the mall, it still does brisk business – it is home to a police training center, and has been the location of several movies and TV shows, including, "Minority Report," "Gone Girl," "Westworld;" and music videos for Taylor Swift, Chris Brown, Travis Scott, and BTS.
Several attempts to redevelop the 35-acre property, such as revitalizing it as a shopping center then later as a mixed-used development with housing units, have gone nowhere. After issuing hundreds of administrative citations against the mall's owner, M&A Gabaee, LLC, the city's next step is apparently a nuisance abatement lawsuit.
"The City has worked for years with the owner to address these issues plaguing the community, yet it has been met with one broken promise after another," Hawthorne City Attorney Robert Kim said in a statement. The city says neighboring residents, school staff, and children have tried to work with police to address the issues, but many "are afraid to go outside and feel like they are prisoners in their own homes."
"No one deserves to feel unsafe in their own home, and we will do what it takes to make this community feel safe again," Kim said.
M&A Gabaee has not yet responded to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
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