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Residents Reap Early Benefits From Brickyard

Less than four months after breaking ground at the Brickyard Light Industrial Project in Compton, residents and city officials are reaping some of the rewards of a community benefits package worth nearly one million dollars from developers Trammel and Crowe.

Compton residents are finding jobs thanks to the current construction work on the property and nearby crumbling streets are showing the first stages of a facelift and paving the way to even more jobs in the near future.

Compton City Councilwoman Janna Zurita’s mother grew up on 134th Street, a stone’s throw from the property that was known for a dirty, noisy existence. The Brickyard made bricks. Now, it’s on the verge of making Compton a key economic player in Southern California’s port industry.

“This is so important for our economic development,” Zurita says. “We’ll have a place [of employment] where folks can walk or ride their bikes to work.” Zurita also expects the Brickyard project to entice new employees to “move to our community to work here and send their kids to school here.”

Two Compton residents already employed as construction workers on the site have reasons to be happy that go far beyond getting a steady paycheck. Anthony Henderson and his neighbor and co-worker Eddie Padilla landed their jobs through the city’s gang intervention efforts at the Career Link Center. “Oh, this is definitely keeping me out of trouble,” Henderson admits and points southwest. “I live right over there.”

Councilwoman Zurita, standing on the worst street bordering the property, points out the changes scheduled for completion a few months from now.

“This is Sam Littleton Street, which was a one-lane, two-way street with no lighting,” she says. “[Developers] agreed to make it twice as wide. Those concrete barriers lining the far side of the street weren’t put there for the construction. Those things have always been there.”

In other words, Sam Littleton Street is a mess and it’s been that way for years. Trammel and Crowe Managing Director Greg Ames says this time next year the street’s unlit, uneven asphalt will be but a memory. “Over the course of the next 15 years we’ll fund approximately one million dollars in future road and street maintenance in the city to help offset any perceived impact our property might have,” he says.

“This land,” Zurita explains, “was zoned for heavy industrial use, but what we’re doing is light industrial. Clean trucks, clean air. The trucks will be routed [to enter and exit the facility] on Rosecrans Avenue, so they won’t be coming through the neighborhood. It’s going to be great. It’s going to be lit, it’s going to be secure and there’s going to be jobs in this community.”

Zurita’s family roots in this neighborhood spread far beyond her mother’s house. “The Brickyard faces the backyard of my grandfather’s house where we used to play,” she points out. And while developer Ames didn’t grow up here, he claims to have personal stakes invested as well.

“My partner and I spent so much time in the city and in the community meeting with neighbors,” he says. “[We were] meeting with parents, teachers and elected officials, folks who are looking for jobs. We got to personally know every part of the constituency in the fabric of this neighborhood.”

Zurita offers a big laugh in agreement. “I swear that man was at every single cookout and barbecue in Compton. He was everywhere.”

“She’s been a tremendous advocate of our project,” Ames says of Zurita. “Some people were fanning the flames because it’s a good way to get attention. But Janna understood what the opportunity was so we were very excited to have a partnership with her.”

As far as Ames is concerned, his efforts will pay off beyond dollars and cents.

“We love going back and seeing the success of our projects and how they’ve made a change in the community. But it means even more when you’ve actually spent time getting to know your neighbors like we have.”

Brickyard worker Henderson says there’s only one downside. “When it rains, we have to stay home.” In other words, considering this is Southern California, there’s really not much of a downside at all.

This news article originally appeared on The Compton Business Journal.