Thanksgiving is all about spending quality time with your family, so I’m thinking what better news to highlight today than the new Grand Park Playground that just opened this past weekend in Downtown LA’s Civic Center. The new colorful playground is located across City Hall within the most eastern section of Grand Park. At only 3,700 square feet, it’s impact on the downtown community will be much bigger than its actual size. Like honey bees to a flower, playgrounds attract families with children. And this past Saturday, you could say a gazillion kids waited eagerly to be the first ones to jump, climb, and slide their way into the new playground.
Ralphs Fresh Fare opened in Downtown LA as part of the Market Lofts condos in July 2007 and played a major critical role in allowing the downtown revitalization to continue moving forward. The small, but growing population at the time could finally buy groceries (a simple but important necessity) without having to leave their own downtown community. In a nutshell, Ralphs made Downtown LA much more livable and allowed the residential community to grow into what it is today, attracting more businesses to open. Now more than seven years after opening, the downtown Ralphs has gone through a beautiful $2.5 million remodeling upgrade that will keep it up-to-date with the rapidly evolving Downtown LA landscape that’s getting ever more crowded. The competition is heating up as more markets have opened downtown since Ralphs (Smart & Final Extra, Urban Radish), with more coming in the future (Whole Foods, Grow Market, likely Trader Joe’s), and some oldies-but-goodies being rediscovered again (Woori Market).
Meat lovers are sure to rejoice as we are only several months away from the exciting opening of Fogo de Chão at 8th and Figueroa. We first announced they would be replacing Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion back in early Sept. Managed by contractor Shawmut, construction has been chugging along nicely over the last couple of months, converting the massive 8,120 square foot space into the next AYCE Brazilian BBQ hot spot in Downtown LA.
Serving Los Angeles since 2008, the Lobsta Truck brought us those delicious mouthwatering lobster rolls New England is famous for. It all started when Lobsta Truck founder and owner Justin Mi came back to LA from a trip to Maine after partaking in a two-day lobsterfest and realized that you really couldn’t get that kind of lobster experience here on the west coast. So the lobsters-on-wheels concept was born and became instantly popular as Angelenos far and wide lined-up to taste that buttery crustacean goodness served on a toasted split-roll made the traditional east coast way. After expanding the Lobsta Truck to the Bay Area earlier this year, Mi is now onto the next evolution of his business opening his first brick and mortar location, Lobsta Shack, here in Chinatown in Downtown LA.
Like my favorite 90’s kid show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, the hunt for the elusive Trader Joe’s continues in Downtown LA. We were oh so close, but no cigar. Unfortunately, the other deal fell through at The Bloc where it was originally “supposed to” go. Apparently, the location of the proposed market in the back of the shopping center — with its slanted grade change — didn’t jibe with our wonderful purveyors of Two-Buck Chucks. But wait! With the fast-approaching arrival of Whole Foods just down the street, it looks like Trader Joe’s may not want to end up too far away after all — hopefully it sticks this time. According to multiple credible sources, Trader Joe’s is currently eyeing and in early negotiations with a strategically located historic structure at the edge of the moribund Jewelry District.
New owners of the former Coca-Cola factory building in the Arts District have just released some very exciting renderings of the conversion project they plan to implement for the historic production facility built a century ago. The owners — a joint venture between LA-based GPI Companies and NY-based Atlas Capital — plan to invest a substantial amount of funds (in the multi-millions) to redevelop the property into a creative office and retail hub that will restore and highlight the building’s amazing vintage character — including the beautiful red brick that makes up most of the facade.
The momentum on Broadway continues. Fans of athletic footwear and apparel will be pleased to know that Shiekh Shoes is coming to Broadway opening next door to the new Gap Factory Store. Replacing a lower-end fashion chain called Rainbow, the new approximately 6,000 square foot Shiekh store will offer higher-end essential brands for men, women, and children including: Nike, Jordan, Adidas, Converse, K-Swiss, Lacoste, Sketchers, and Steve Madden. With over 140 locations in 10 states (mostly in California), Shiekh Shoes are generally located in shopping malls (there’s one at the Beverly Center for instance), but are also beginning to open urban street-facing stores such as the new Hollywood Blvd location that opened earlier this year.
We last checked in with One Santa Fe about 6 months ago when it was still a big construction site and it’s so exciting to see something this huge and game-changing coming to fruition. Designed by renowned architect Michael Maltzan, the massive 438-unit Arts District project (a quarter of a mile long) is already filling up with new residents and signing new leases with unique and exciting shops and eateries. Dubbed “The Yards at One Santa Fe” (a reference to Metro’s train maintenance yard next door), the retail center on the ground floor is preparing to launch one of the most exciting indie retail concepts in all of Los Angeles that’ll give cross-town Abbot Kinney a run for its money. Three more new additions have just signed on: LA’s Wittmore, SF’s Voyager Shop, and a new Asian eatery called BOL, all expected to open in the first quarter of 2015.
It’s usually the fancy (and expensive) restaurants that get the most attention when they open in Downtown LA. And don’t get me wrong, they absolutely play a critical role by drawing people in from far and wide that have helped put Downtown LA on the map for dining and beyond. But you wanna know what else gets downtowners really excited? When a great local eatery opens that actually caters to downtown residents with no added frills — just good and affordable food you can have regularly. A great urban center has a diverse mix of options: both high and low and definitely not just high. And that’s why I’m so excited about Springtime in New York, which just opened less than two weeks ago in Downtown LA and has already become a great addition to the neighborhood.
Calling all fashion freaks in Los Angeles! Are you ready for the debut tomorrow of the limited Alexander Wang x H&M men’s and women’s collection coming to Downtown LA’s new H&M flagship store? Diehard Wang lovers will be camping out tonight to be first in line to receive a FREE Alexander Wang backpack stuffed with a yummy mystery gift for the first 10 lucky customers. The much anticipated Thursday launch (from LA to NYC) of the new H&M designer collaboration with one of the most renowned designers in fashion will begin promptly at 8 am when doors open early for this sure-to-be-chaotic (read: hair grabbing) occasion.
For those following The Bloc makeover project, we’ve seen a lot of new exciting developments that show a very bright future ahead for a once very dreadful place that stifled Downtown LA’s urban revitalization progress. We’ve seen what The Bloc will be like on 7th Street, Flower, and Hope. But very little was known about the 8th Street side of the project — until now. Yesterday, work started on three exciting permanent murals commissioned by The Bloc’s ownership, The Ratkovich Company, that will adorn the bland fortress-like walls, transforming the streetscape into a colorful and artistic urban experience.
The moment you enter Little Jewel of New Orleans you are transported to the heart of Louisiana. Housed in an original 1870’s era building in the heart of Chinatown, the space is a combination market and southern deli offering some of the best Creole cooking in Los Angeles. While new to the block, Little Jewel feels like it has been a neighborhood staple for years. From the quirky artwork that adorns the walls to the awesome collection of classic jazz and soul that emanates from the sound system, the space feels casual, welcoming and unpretentious.
One of the most dense residential neighborhoods in Los Angeles is the Historic Core in Downtown LA. So what better location for a Joe’s Pizza than right here in LA’s most urban neighborhood where even a New Yorker can feel right at home. Last night, a bright red “coming soon” construction wall announcing Joe’s arrival went up near 6th and Spring in the heart of the Historic Core. Replacing a shuttered dry cleaner adjacent to the popular Syrup Dessert, this will be the fifth Joe’s location in LA with four others in Hollywood, Sunset Strip, Century City, and Sherman Oaks.
Bunker Hill is really on the cusp of achieving some great critical mass. Not only is the very much anticipated Broad museum opening in late 2015, but one of downtown’s most luxurious new residential properties, The Emerson, opened earlier this month with its first resident move-ins (take a lovely tour inside via Curbed LA). Developed by Related California, the upscale 19-story rental property located adjacent to The Broad is chock-full of amenities from a penthouse lounge with an outdoor terrace to a state-of-the-art media room and library next to a fully equipped fitness center with steam and yoga rooms. Now Emerson residents will have one more thing to brag about: Renowned Italian Chef Agostino Sciandri will be opening Vespaio on the ground floor of The Emerson.
For the longest time, it seemed like Spring Street was having all the coffee fun with so many cafes opening up over the last few years from indie sweet spots like Spring for Coffee and Tierra Mia to corporate Starbucks. Now, add another one to the list of growing coffee shops in the Historic Core, this time a couple blocks over near 6th/Los Angeles St. Elabrew Coffee just opened earlier this month and is already the new neighborhood go-to cafe for local residents looking for something new to try. Located directly across the street from Hero Shop (where you get the “perfect banh mi“), this is Elabrew’s second and funkier location with the original one still in Santa Monica near the future Bergamot Expo Line station.