West Adams Development Drama

An Entire Neighborhood Is Being Flipped by a Los Angeles Developer
(excerpts from Bloomberg Article)

washaul2"Led by Shaul Kuba, the firm’s 59-year-old co-founder and development chief, CIM is working on 40 properties in West Adams at once. That includes construction of 15 new buildings, two to six stories high, with glass storefronts at street level and as many as 170 apartments above. Other CIM projects on West Adams are hipster bait—industrial spaces reconfigured to lure affluent tech and entertainment professionals. Because of Kuba, a neighborhood formerly occupied by auto mechanics, upholsterers, and pipe fitters, and long plagued by gang violence, now has its own Szechuan noodle joint, a vinyl record shop, and a $200-a-night boutique hotel. White millennials who work in booming Culver City sip matcha drinks and walk their labradoodles on the boulevard, even at night, babbling obliviously on AirPods. Longtime residents gape at their nonchalance on streets where shootings were recently routine."

waSherrif3"In 2017, Kuba summoned Abdul Jamal Sheriff, who owns a liquor store a half-block from the Chevron station, to a meeting at CIM’s Wilshire Boulevard offices. He offered Sheriff $2.6 million for his store and an adjoining duplex, about 60% more than Sheriff paid for the business and buildings in 2005 and 2015.

Sheriff told Kuba he needed to think about it. Since scrubbing restrooms at Wendy’s for $3.50 an hour as a newly arrived immigrant from Sierra Leone 32 years ago, Sheriff, now 51, has earned a master’s degree in quality assurance and parlayed proceeds from three liquor stores into a prolific house-flipping business. West Adams is his prize. Wearing a baseball cap, a fitted leather jacket, and Gucci loafers, he sells lottery tickets, cigarettes, and booze behind an inch-thick plexiglass barrier. He has a singular, incongruent dream: to bulldoze Holiday Liquor Market and construct his own CIM-style mixed-use apartment complex in its place. “I’ve always seen myself as a Shaul Kuba in the making,” he says. “I want to be part of the new Adams.”

A few weeks after their first meeting, Kuba called Sheriff in again. It was time to close the deal, he said. He promised Sheriff he could continue operating Holiday Liquor for another year or two until CIM tore it down. Sheriff said he wasn’t ready to sell. “That’s when everything blew up,” he says. Kuba exploded and called him “a piece of shit” and said CIM was just trying to help him because “nobody” wanted him on West Adams anymore, Sheriff testified in a 2019 court deposition.

“I remember looking around Shaul’s conference room thinking I have no chance, I’m a Black guy with three White folks. No one will stand up for me,” Sheriff says. “I told myself, you came here with dignity, you need to walk out of here with dignity.”


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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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