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  • Maya Shavit

Corbett and Clemson LA Apartment Tenants Succeed and Begin Contract Talks

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

After the passing of Boston University Alumnus Frederick S. Pardee, the fate of Los Angeles tenants, lies in the hands of school leadership. BU has come to the table for negotiations after strife and protest for the apartment complexes as of January 10th. All for-profit buyers have backed out of potential deals in the LA properties.

Boston University inherited a series of properties following the death of Mr. Pardee in Los Angeles. Included in the properties was a collective of apartments in Downtown Crenshaw on Corbett and Clemson street, respectively. The 130 tenants in the complexes were confident that they could negotiate through the Liberty Community Land Trust to own the buildings because of Frederick S. Pardee’s humanitarian vision and passion for helping people affected by global poverty. However, Boston University seemed to have other plans with for-profit buyers.

In the fall and winter of 2022, the mostly low-income Black and Brown tenants curiously watched as for-profit buyers toured their apartments. The apartments were not publicly listed, but they received notices that let them know they were going to have people touring the facility. Later they discovered that these were speculative investors. Among the investors was a Boston University broker who, according to the Instagram handle @corbett tenants, “remained uncooperative and uninterested in the tenant's offer to purchase the building.”

BU had decided to come to the negotiation table regarding 75% of the properties in question as of January 8th. The university was still on track to sell 5605 Corbett, one of the four apartments, which would still leave 40 people to face eviction. The final buyer for the location decided to back out of the for profit sale on January 10th, meaning the Liberty Community Land Trust and Downtown Crenshaw Rising are now in the process of finalizing a contract for all four properties formerly owned by Frederick S. Pardee.

Frederick S. Pardee made his fortune as an economist and real estate management mogul based out of LA. As a child growing up in World War II, he was acutely aware of the gross disparities of privilege and misfortune in the world. Pardee eventually graduated from Boston University in 1954 and began to accumulate his wealth. Eventually, the humanitarian donated millions of dollars to institutional structures he believed in, such as education and affordable housing. Pardee passed away last June, and some of his investments went to Boston University.

Despite Pardee’s vision for elevating people around the globe suffering from global poverty, the tenants of Corbett and Clemson have been fighting hard for the opportunity to own the apartment complex many of them have spent many years living in due to the gentrification in their neighborhood. Downtown Crenshaw and the Baldwin Hills zip code is a historically Black part of Los Angeles that has been facing the threat of gentrification since the early 1990s following the death of Rodney King, a victim of police brutality whose perpetrators were acquitted, that was a spark for the LA Riots.

Mayor Karen Bass and Councilwoman Heather Hunt have been behind the tenants, the LCLT, and the collective of Downtown Crenshaw Rising and have been outspoken in their backing of the LA Tenants Union. LA has one of the United States’ largest homeless populations, with the number of people growing to nearly 70,000 in 2022.

“This such an amazing win for Los Angeles... and what is possible for tenants in danger,” noted corbett.tenants via private Instagram messages.


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