For historic Black community, Crenshaw/LAX Line is ‘a blessing and a curse’

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Not far from the new Martin Luther King Jr. station along Crenshaw Boulevard, dozens of new apartments are under construction, a sign of the change washing over the historically Black district as Metro readies to open its seventh major rail line Friday.

The 8½-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line, known as the K Line, is being hailed by officials as the key to linking the region’s transit lines, at long last offering a connection into the Los Angeles International Airport, and with lines to downtown and the beach. The full line is not set to open until 2024, but officials will begin running the trains along seven stops, this first weekend for free.

For those who live and work close to the line, it is rapidly changing the neighborhoods around it, for better or worse. Investors are pouring billions of dollars to build commercial space and high-density and affordable housing in an area that has long been the heart of the Black middle class in Los Angeles, and a place of mom-and-pop businesses like dentists, hair salons, florists, art studios, grocery stores and restaurants.

Victoria Fortson has watched the apartments rise across Crenshaw from the five-unit apartment and storefront she owns, the Right Choice Caribbean Market. She stocks yams, plantains, goat, sweet potatoes and meat pies, staples of Jamaica, her homeland. Currency from around the world hangs from a plate glass where the cashier sits.

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