downtown los angeles, financial district

Ratkovich Acquires Downtown LA Macy’s Plaza, Will Begin $160 Million Upgrade with New Access to Subway Station

Macy's Plaza

Major upgrades are coming to Macy’s Plaza after being acquired by The Ratkovich Company

One of the biggest eye sores (and embarrassments) in all of Downtown Los Angeles — the 1970s “shopping fortress” known as Macy’s Plaza — has a very bright future ahead of it. One of LA’s most respected developers, The Ratkovich Company, has successfully acquired the dated complex from Jamison Services, Inc for $241 million according to the LA Times. The purchase, which closed escrow last week, includes not only the retail portion (Macy’s, Express, Bath and Body Works, LA Fitness, etc.) but also the 23-story, 485-room Sheraton hotel and the 33-story 700 S Flower office tower totaling 2.4 million square feet. Ratkovich plans to spend $160 million to upgrade the entire complex with some very exciting changes that will dramatically alter the urban landscape of the Financial District.

Macy’s Plaza will be renamed “The Bloc” and will be redesigned by Johnson Fain Architects (based in Chinatown). Current plans call for the complete removal of the enclosed glass atrium that faces 7th Street, making it more outdoor than indoor, and allowing Ratkovich to include a third floor of retail space (there is currently an underground level). From an earlier DTLA Rising report from Dec 2012, Macy’s will be staying put with major multi-million dollar plans to upgrade the department store to a potential “flagship” store, including the possible addition of their Visit Macy’s USA tourist visitor center, which is only in 4 other US cities including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

To address the center’s most flawed design characteristic, being insular and withdrawn from the urban fabric, the brick walls will be removed and the mall will essentially be inverted outward by punching out the walls (i.e., along Flower Street) and inserting new store fronts that engage the pedestrian realm along the sidewalks. Moving to this format would activate the streets with pedestrian activity and strengthen the urban connection between the Financial District and South Park.

The Bloc, which also includes the hotel and office tower, are planned for major upgrades as well. The Sheraton, which underwent a remodeling effort several years ago, will be getting further upgrades including a new swimming pool and hotel gym with a goal to reach a “4-star status.” The office tower, which is currently about 33% vacant, will be repositioned from an undesirable Class B office tower to a “high tech hub” with creative office space (i.e., removing dropped ceilings, exposing concrete floors, etc.) aimed at the growing entertainment, technology, and media companies in Los Angeles. In addition, a rooftop lounge will be added for office tenants to enjoy.

And perhaps the most exciting detail regarding this redevelopment effort by Ratkovich (for an urbanist and transit advocate like myself) is the plan to build a direct pedestrian connection between The Bloc and the very busy 7th/Metro subway station across the street. Since the underground portion of the mall right now is in alignment with the underground metro station, it is entirely possible to provide an easy connection between the two. In fact, the MTA purposefully designed the metro station with “knock out panels” along certain sections of the walls with the very intention that one day, a developer with an urban vision (unlike Jamison Services, Inc), would take advantage of it and allow transit riders to have direct access to the mall akin to what you would experience in great transit-oriented cities like New York or Tokyo.

Construction on The Bloc will take about 2 years starting in early 2014 and completing in late 2015.

For more info, visit The Bloc’s website.

An aerial view and rendering of Macy's Plaza transformed into The Bloc (Photo: The Bloc)

An aerial view and rendering of Macy’s Plaza transformed into The Bloc (Photo: The Bloc)

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  1. raymond3000 says

    OMG the best news of the year for me!! Hopefully we hear more details about the parking garage…will it be demolished or revamped?? Its good to see such ambitious plans that will start soo soon instead of several years away!!

  2. downtown resident says

    wow. just wow. this is incredible news for downtown!!!!

  3. EmJay says

    Glad to hear more about the changes that are coming, but “The Bloc”….really? Come on…They’re joking right? Why do they have to give these developments really stupid names.

  4. Topher says

    Been waiting for this update forever. Thx Brigham. Best news of the year.

    • Brandon says

      The post office (in its current location) is a huge part of the problem. A storefront that is on such a prime location should not be so underutilized or for that matter closed on the weekends. If they must keep a presence there it should be located in another less prominent location. Perhaps it could be inside Macy’s like the one in San Francisco.

  5. just checked out johnson fain’s website to see what other projects they’ve worked on, and they have designed some beautiful buildings, including the MGM high rise in century city. They’re also the guys who are working on “the runway” in playa vista, which is the new, hip shopping center that is being built in marina del rey. Its great to see a firm that has such experience in creating award winning buildings, including shopping centers, re design macy’s plaza. Can’t wait to see what the final renderings look like! For those that are interested, here is a link to their site:

  6. Brandon says

    Great to finally hear about some movement on this project. They should really rethink the name as it is transforming from “The Bloc” into something much more dynamic.

  7. sebastian says

    I’m so excited. Yes renderings please when you get them.

  8. sebastian says

    Does anyone know how they will cover the brick on the walls, or is that staying, will they put large billboards up like in some of there other projects?

    • topher says

      anything is better than that brick wall.

    • brianmojo says

      I’m guessing the brick will have to mostly stay, but that the way it interacts with the street will be changed. I don’t think it’s a terrible thing to leave some of the original elements if it’s tastefully done. Brick *can* be nice, I feel like it’s salvageable without completely resurfacing.

    • Brandon says

      I doubt they keep any of the brick at street levels. In modern construction, typically brick is an application or veneer, is not structural and fairly easily removed.

    • brianmojo says

      The rendering includes the streetcar, no less! Nice!

  9. Thmj says

    Wow….to put it simply. Dare I show my age but I remember when this structure was first built and it was called the Broadway Plaza. It was quite the place at it’s time as well as the shops at the old Bonaventure Hotel and B of A towers. Thmj.

  10. tony says

    This is HUGE! The endless possibilities!!!! Once the Wilshire Grand is completed, we will now have, LA Live, 7@Fig, WG, and now the Bloc all within walking distance. This region can easily become DTLA’s shopping district.

    Cant wait!

    • raymond3000 says

      I think DT can support several shopping doubt 7th St corridor with 7@Fig, Wilshire Grand & Bloc 7 will be the linchpin to making 7th the DTLA’s premier shopping street. But I think Bway, Spring, East 3rd (Arts District, maybe) Santee or Los Angeles Sts can become shopping destinations as well

  11. Dion says

    one fortress down, one to go (bonaventure)

  12. brando says

    the name is lame. it’s not a “blok” it’s a “plaza”. makes me think of “The Block at Orange” that crappy chain riddled mall off the 5 freeway in Orange. i am happy to see change here, however. and I used to work in a property owned by Jamison in Ktown. they own a lot of slums in LA. all of their buildings are poorly run/managed. i wish they’d sell all of their properties.

  13. yes yes yes! i would love to see this be filled with a cheesecake factory, a banana republic, a forever 21, and maybe even a louis vuitton or a gucci?! Any other ideas as to what should go in here?

    As for the design, i am very happy. What I would like to see is more open storefront, maybe a few macy’s billboards on the parking garage wall, and also the parking garage wall modernized. I would also like to see the lot across the street wedged in between this and fig at 7th. There is definetly big potential there!
    And also, im a huge fan of the name

    • Cracker Barrel FTW says

      Did you really just pine for a Cheesecake Factory? Seriously? The Walmart of the dining world? I know it’s a mall and all, but that is the last thing that should be there. Nothing says upscale like a Cheesecake Factory.

      • tony says

        I’m going to disagree with you here. Although the Cheesecake Factory is not “high-end” it still draws large crowds due to its popularity. DTLA should not just be upscale; to make DTLA successful (pedestrians galore) you have to make sure there is something that appeals to everyone.

        • Cracker Barrel FTW says

          I don’t think everything needs to be high end. But CF is the epitome of suburban mall blandness. I know it’s a mall, but we can definitely have something more interesting that that. Lowest common denominator stuff equals boring.

    • for high end stuff, i would love to see armani, versace, prada, ferragamo, chanel, dior, balenciaga, burberry, etc. For stuff thats not as high end, i would like to see a j. crew, an h&m, cole haan, lacoste, armani exchange, penguin and ben sherman.

      • Yes H&M, i almost forgot ive beed dying for a H&M and maybe even something like a vans, quicksilver, or sketchers store? also this would be a PERFECT place for an apple store

        • I would personally like to see apple use an older building in downtown for an apple store, rather than this space. Apple is known for taking older buildings (particularly in europe), completely refurbishing and restoring them to their former glory, and putting in amazing apple stores.

          • i guess i can agree with you there, but weather there is an apple store here, broadway, 7th street, or maybe even if L.A Central comes back, there, we NEED AN APPLE STORE!!!

  14. Dave says

    At the very least they should install large display cases along the blank garage walls for Macy’s so the department store can do major store windows the way they do in San Fran. and NYC.

    • brianmojo says

      This is a very solid idea for the negative space.

  15. Oscar says

    Great stuff here. Can’t wait to see the renderings from the street(s) perspective. Especially on Flower. I wonder if they’ll change up the Sheraton entrance on Hope. That side is very unaesthetic as can be.

  16. Lawrence says

    Great news! This is a much needed improvement and will really transform this block for the better. I’m looking forward to having a real Macy’s store and I’m hopeful this center will attract many of the retailers we’ve been waiting for in Downtown.

  17. John G. says

    Wish they would also revamp the parking lot structure as well with another tower…

    As for Macy’s, 5 or more floors of retail would be better to bring in the density of businesses for the masses that will be flowing in and out of the nearby train subways…

  18. sebastian says

    This just might bring in some Competition too like Caruso into the area. Wouldn’t that be fun, and he will be saving money because he won’t have to build his trolley.

  19. topher says

    who will be the next big players to move in DTLA? bloomingdales? barneys? sak’s fifth? where’s apple? i’m so happy to be living only ten minutes from DTLA and witness all the transformations. i used to want to move to a real city but now DTLA is becoming one and i’m staying put baby!

  20. Andrew W. says

    Fantastic news! I really like the huge signage and the lighting on the roof of that office tower. If they do it super nice, it’ll give off a dynamism and energy reminscent of some of the buildings in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

  21. Jason Bay says

    Don’t care for the name much. But other than that, it looks promising. The press release mentioned that the Macy’s is a flagship!?!? Just seems too dumpy and small to be one and I’m not even comparing it to The union square or herald square location. If memory serves me right, it’s only about 225-250k sq ft. The Sherman Oaks store is close to 375k on 4 levels! The combined SCP location adds up to over 600sq ft. I would love to see Macy’s take over the old Robinsons store and make it a true flagship. They can then divide up the existing space for other retailers (ie Uniqlo). Or maybe attract other department stores (I remember reading somewhere a year ago that Lord and Taylor I finally looking to expand into CA, this might be their chance)

    • Brandon says

      Actually at 266k sqft the downtown Macy’s is one of the largest in the city according to the Macy’s, inc. web site. The largest in the region is Laurel Plaza at 475k sqft and Sherman Oaks is actually only 312k sqft. Even both stores at the Beverly Center are only 225k sqft when combined. This is a large store for Macy’s and they will be investing a lot to renovate the store as was previously reported. I am certain with the ownership change and revamp of the property, the Macy’s, Inc. investment will increase from the initially reported $7 million and the mix of merchandise will improve making it match other ‘flagship’ locations around the country.

  22. Thanks for the correction on the SO and downtown stores.

    As for Laurel Plaza, isn’t a large chunk of that dedicated to office space? I used to work there back in the 90s when it was still Robinson May and remember the 4th & 5th floor being the admin/exec offices for the company The 475K must be including those floors in addition to the 3 main ones.

    At any rate, I also hope Macy’s invest a bit more on the downtown store. Seems like $7 million dollars does not go very far these days.

  23. Carter says

    The Laurel Plaza store is in fact Regional Headquarters for the Macy’s SW Division.
    If Macy’s wanted more space, they could take over much of the lower level not occupied by LA Fitness and just incorporating that space into a Macy’s Cellar, or similar. But its existing size is large.

  24. Lozza says

    Black roof top parking is a no no but otherwise looks promising and very needed. Bring on international chains : Uniqlo, KOS, zadig etc…

  25. I’m really interested in seeing how the center will connect with the Metro station, considering that the 7th Metro Center station will not only serve Red/Purple line trains, but the Regional Connector as well. I am really hoping that it is not just some long hallway that simply allows you to skip having to cross 7th street on street level. It should have cafes, banks, convenience stores, etc to activate the space much like subway/mall connections in Hong Kong and Singapore. If done right, it could be a shining example of how to integrate transit with commercial developments in Los Angeles.

  26. Susie says

    About time!! Looking forward to the new changes.

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