Charter school to open $6.5 million campus in Boyle Heights shopping center

BOYLE HEIGHTS — A charter school developer is planning to open a new campus in the Plaza Del Sol shopping center as part of a $6.5 million project, according to city building permit information.

Endeavor College Prep, which currently operates three schools in and near Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights, will expand into the Soto Street shopping center. The Eastsider has contacted Endeavor for details.

The shopping center is already home to a charter school, Arts in Action. Executive director Glenda Aleman said that her school is being allowed to remain until its lease expires in seven years. However, Arts in Action is looking for a new location because Aleman doesn’t think sharing the complex with another school that serves the same grades, K-8, would work out. Her school expects to have 455 students next year.

Endeavor “will be taking all of the remaining space that our school is not occupying—the entire building,” Aleman said. “We do not think that two schools with the same grade levels will be good for our enrollment, and we are worried about the traffic congestion this is going to cause. We will remain at Plaza del Sol for at least another school year while we continue to search for another site.”

Aleman said the shopping center was purchased by Pacific Charter School Development, which builds campuses for charter school operators. In East Los Angeles, for example, Pacific Charter transformed the former First Street Store into the campus for Alliance Morgan McKinzie High School and Alliance College-Ready Middle Academy 8.

It’s not known if the entire shopping center, which consists of two buildings and parking structure, will be converted into a school or if a portion will remain available to commercial tenants.

Plaza del Sol, which was sold last March for $11.25 million, has often struggled over the years to attract retail tenants and customers since opening more than 30 years ago just a block north of the landmark Sears store at Soto and Olympic Boulevard. A lack of customers to the 80,000-square-foot mall prompted merchants to complain as lawsuits were filed shortly after Plaza del Sol opened. “This place is a pit,” one tenant told the L.A. Times in 1987.

Last year, one of the mall’s largest tenants, the Marinello Schools of Beauty, shut down.

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