This past Thanksgiving, I received a very exciting tip from a reader who informed me that Grand Central Market — one of the most precious historic gems in Los Angeles located at 3rd between Broadway and Hill — was planning to be revamped in the near future (early 2013). Then confirmation came yesterday when the LA Times reported that the historic 1917 downtown market is, indeed, getting a major overhaul with some very exciting implications that will add significant momentum to both the urban revitalization happening on Broadway and Downtown LA in general.
For one, the team working on this project — put together by the market’s owner The Yellin Company — is top-notch with extensive experience. The architect firm hired is BCV, which was behind the remodel of the beautiful Ferry Building in San Francisco and the World Financial Center Market Hall in New York. The developer, Rick Moses, helped piece together Americana at Brand in Glendale and will be figuring out how to reposition the entire Grand Central Square. In addition, two die-hard/passionate culinary consultants have been brought on board to help oversee the project including Joseph Shuldiner (founder of the Altadena Farmers Market and the Science of Domestic Technology) and Kevin West (former W Magazine editor now successful food-canning business owner).
A lot of positive changes are ahead for the 27,000 square foot Grand Central Market that entails repositioning the market by attracting new vendors and “rejuvenating” long-time retailers that have long-term leases. With a 33% vacancy (15 empty stalls out of 45), filling up the remaining stalls with new creative eateries is an exciting prospect with loads of possibilities. In fact, in addition to downtown-based Soi 7 already signing on to do a new concept called “Sticky Rice” in the former La Mamma Burger space, my sources are telling me that a two Michelin star LA chef may do a seafood concept and the popular LA-based meat butcher duo, Lindy and Grundy, is supposedly in talks as well.
According to the LA Times article, the first phase of renovations has already begun with a “deep cleaning” that takes place at night where the walls, columns, and ceilings are being repainted, and the floors are being cleaned and polished.
Eventually, I see the Grand Central Market going down the same path as the Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax. Like Grand Central, the famous 1934 Mid-City outdoor market was moribund at one point before The Grove was built next door in 2002. After The Grove — a shopping center with flagship retailers and restaurants — became such a huge success at drawing large crowds back to the immediate area, the Farmers Market got a new lease on life, attracted new investments, and became a wonderful and relevant place again. The parallel here for the Grand Central Market is that our “Grove” is Broadway’s future revitalization, which will also have tremendous drawing power once it becomes a regional (if not international) shopping/dining/entertainment destination.
The biggest advantage Grand Central Market will have over 3rd/Fairfax? Angelenos from far and wide will be able to access the former with superior mass transit: a convenient subway station at 4th and Hill less than a block away.
Let’s take a look at the Farmers Market at 3rd/Fairfax as a successful example of what the Grand Central Market could be like: