The last several weeks have been filled with really great news (read: a windfall) one after another regarding new retail stores opening or announcing their arrival in Downtown LA. It started with a big bang when we found out that the high-end Swedish retailer Acne Studios would be opening their largest store in the world at 9th and Broadway; then we had LA designer Alejandro Rodriguez’s Beautiful Fül store grand opening; then another grand opening of the national brand Sub_Urban Riot’s first retail store in the US; and then of course Brooks Brothers opened not long after in the Financial District. It culminated last Thursday with the exciting announcement that Urban Outfitters will be coming to Broadway later this year taking over and rehabbing the beautiful but dilapidated Rialto Theatre, including the restoration of the historic theater marquee.
I think this is a perfect time to take a look at Downtown Brooklyn, in particular the Fulton Street Mall, to compare the striking similarities between this rapidly evolving part of New York City and the amazing urban renaissance happening in Downtown LA — and in particular Broadway. The two distinct downtowns, separated by almost 3,000 miles, are walking along similar paths toward the direction of urban redevelopment and revitalization.
These pictures I took below are from my recent trip to New York in April last month. Fulton Street Mall, centrally located in Downtown Brooklyn, immediately struck a cord with me because it reminded me so much of what Broadway in Downtown LA looks like today. There were a plethora of discount jewelry stores, check cashing centers, pawn shops, and other stores hawking bargain electronics — almost identical to the current state of Broadway.
However, what struck me even more was that within all the discount merchandisers, a few large substantial national retailers were starting to set up shop, basically inserting themselves right along side these discount stores. It’s something we’ve been wondering here in LA: “Would that ever be able to happen on Broadway in Downtown LA?” Stores like A/X Armani Exchange, Aldo, Aeropostale, Express, and Brooklyn Industries (and even a Shake Shack burger joint!) were opening nearby or next to pawn shops, discount jewelers, and other bargain stores. Looking up above Fulton Mall, you’d also see another sure sign of change: new luxury residential high-rises actively under construction towering above the street.
When it comes to retail, Fulton Street Mall seems to be just slightly ahead of Downtown LA’s Broadway revitalization by perhaps a couple of years. I think it’s an interesting example to see how Broadway may develop in the near future. With all that said, we should keep in mind that Broadway will eventually become even “grander and bigger” than Fulton Street Mall as the scale on Broadway is already much larger and we still have about a dozen absolutely amazing movie palaces that will contribute to a mix of not only retail and dining, but incredible entertainment options once we figure out how to activate the theaters with consistent programming and productions. Oh, and don’t forget about the evolving Grand Central Market.
Downtown Brooklyn Fulton Street Mall
The Changes Happening on Fulton Street Mall