When you think of abandoned buildings, riddled with graffiti and overgrown weeds, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not a prosperous, nationally acclaimed city. That’s what laid fallow on the corner of La Tijera and La Cienega at the former Thrifty Oil gas station, until the work of a visionary team, repurposed the space for a community benefit. What was once “the old gas station on La Cienega” is now the District 2 Community Center.
Councilman Alex Padilla of District 2 noted that, “Today, we’ve completed our grand opening, and we’ve celebrated by bringing together the community. For 18 years, this location sat vacant and for so many years, nobody knew what was going to be built here until we finally had a leadership team with the mayor and councilmembers coming together to work with Thrifty Oil; to agree to put a community center together that would service the residents of Inglewood, specifically the residents in District 2. So, today is the realization of that dream, of those discussions, and of many meetings that I’ve had with residents in their homes and at community meetings. I’m truly proud to be the councilman of this district.”
The ceremony was opened by City Manager Artie Fields who said, “I know many of you have driven by this site or live close by and said to yourselves, or to other people, why can’t those folks at City Hall get their stuff together and do something about that blighted gas station? Well, I can tell you, as you’ve heard before, that the mayor and city council sitting up here with me today are by far, the best team this city has had, since the Lakers left town.”
Inglewood resident Tony Ware added, “This is great because I know with the gas station being here, the graffiti, a lot of people hanging out, that’s not part of the community, to now, the building being redone, the streets, and the beautification of the neighborhood, it’s a great day for Inglewood.”
The event was loaded with residents in support of the grand opening. As the ribbon was severed, and the doors flung open in celebration, herds of enthusiastic Inglewoodians flooded inside to get a first glimpse and bask in the possibilities of the space.
In regard to the center, Alex Padilla said, “Although it’s built in Inglewood, the property belongs to Thrifty Oil. The City of Inglewood is in a private/public partnership with Thrifty Oil, so that for 22 years, we get use of this facility for $1 per year in exchange for Thrifty being able to display various advertisements which the City will also generate revenues from.”
Sergio Hernandez of District 2 said, “I’ve been living in Inglewood for about 15 years now and the opening of the community center is really important for the city and the community around us, this building has been abandoned for so many years. I think Councilman Alex Padilla did a wonderful job here. It was needed, and hopefully it will be put to good use.”
District 3 Councilman Eloy Morales added, “Once a community starts to open up community centers, with public/private partnerships, it means something. It means we have the trust of the business community, and that’s an amazing step for the City of Inglewood.”
Juanita Winthrow of La Tijera Village said, “I’m so happy to see this center done, and appreciate Councilman Padilla’s hard work. It’s going to be a wonderful resource for this community that we really need. A lot of us worked very hard to encourage this space to be open.”
Robert Pulliam-Miles, who was in attendance representing Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, presented a special acknowledgement award for the outstanding work the City of Inglewood is doing to revitalize its communities.
District 1 Councilman George Dotson added, “This is a beautiful place and it’s going to bring such a wonderful atmosphere to the neighborhood. This is what happens in Inglewood, because now, we have a great team, we’ve learned to work together, to do things to make our city great and better. I just love the idea of people coming together to enjoy the things we have going on here in Inglewood.”
Mayor James Butts, who rocked a Kenny Britt jersey tagged with his last name mentioned, “One of the things I’m really proud about in this city and how we brought things together, is we did the things that needed to be done to make the city stable and financially solvent. What I’m equally proud of, and maybe even more proud of, is the things people have forgotten about the City. To do projects like this, cities would have to take about $50 Million in bonds, but back when I first came into office, we didn’t even qualify to bond for infrastructure repairs. Now, we don’t borrow money, we do it because we make enough money out of the General Fund. Inglewood is on the move like no other city is on the move.”
The District 2 Community Center Grand Opening was made possible by contributions from the good folks over at Fiesta Martin, Ralphs Market, and Republic Services, who provided food and games for everyone in attendance.
So, who gets to enjoy this community center? When asked, Alex Padilla confirmed, “This community center, although it’s in District 2, it’s the City of Inglewood’s community center, it’s open to all our residents, it will be open Monday through Friday from 11am to 8pm, and on Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.”