Rumor Mill: Gap, Banana Republic, other Big Retailers Scouting Downtown LA

Gap, Banana Republic, and other large retailers are now rumored to be searching for space in Downtown LA along either Broadway or 7th Street

Gap, Banana Republic, and other large retailers are now rumored to be searching for space in Downtown LA along either Broadway or 7th Street

Since Urban Outfitters and Acne Studios opened on Broadway in late December of last year, a whirlwind of new retailers have setup shop almost overnight nearby 9th and Broadway and the new Ace Hotel. OAK NYC, Tanner Goods, Aesop, and A.P.C. to name a few. But all up and down Broadway is fair game for other retailers including the apparent signing of Burlington Coat Factory at 7th/Broadway. Now, rumors are picking up that other large well-known brands —¬†which once eschewed Downtown LA like the plague — have not only taken notice of all this new retail activity, but are actively looking for suitable spaces in Downtown LA as well. Where? Specifically along retail-conducive streets like Broadway and 7th Street where large redevelopment projects like The Bloc and Wilshire Grand Tower continue to generate buzz. Names like Gap, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Forever 21, and Anthropologie have all come up as brands searching or eyeing Downtown LA. No exact locations are yet confirmed for any of these brands, but the fact is, eventually they will find a home here. Only a matter of time. Also, within the next month or so, both Zara and H&M will be opening their exciting new LA flagship stores at FIGat7th that will further add fuel to the growing retail fire in Downtown LA.

Back in the heyday of Downtown LA’s nostalgic past in the early 1900s, Broadway and 7th Street were thriving shopping thoroughfares lined with both large and small stores, high end and low end. You had giant posh department stores like Bullock’s at 7th/Broadway and smaller modest chain boutiques like Chandler’s French Room at 7th/Olive, which sold reasonably priced lady’s heels. Then you had nickel and dime stores like Woolworth on Broadway now reincarnated as a discount Ross store. Downtown LA was, in fact, the center of shopping in the entire region at one time, and now coming back after decades of decline, we are beginning to see the first real signs that both Broadway and 7th Street could once again become LA’s premier outdoor urban shopping district. Finally, stores can be proud to open in the heart of Los Angeles (not Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, or West Hollywood) in a much grander and authentic urban context instead of once being relegated mostly to malls like Beverly Center or fake town centers like The Grove.

My wish list, besides focusing on just fashion retailers, includes stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, and even corporate cell phone stores like Verizon and AT&T because you don’t want to leave downtown just to get service when you need it. Is that too much to ask for?

[Update 4/11/14 at 10:27 am: As if almost on cue, after I ran this story last night mentioning J. Crew, literally this morning at 9:30 am, J. Crew's social media Instagram posted a picture of the Los Angeles Theatre on Broadway signaling that J. Crew is indeed planning to open in Downtown LA and likely on Broadway as the picture entails. Location to be determined probably pretty soon.]

J. Crew Instagram announces this morning that they are planning to open in Downtown LA, and likely on Broadway as the picture entails (Photo: Joshua Levi)

J. Crew Instagram announces this morning that they are planning to open in Downtown LA, and likely on Broadway as the picture entails (Photo: Joshua Levi)

38 Responses to Rumor Mill: Gap, Banana Republic, other Big Retailers Scouting Downtown LA

  1. It’s about time baby! And an edgy apple store please!!!!

  2. What’s the status on the bloc Brig?

  3. OMG!! Yay! When will Sephora, APPLE and maybe Aldo come?????

  4. This is GREAT news!! I’d like to see a G by Guess store, Bershka, Pull & Bear, Best Buy, Aldo, Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, Armani, Guess, New York & Company, Fred Segal and too many others to list :D

  5. Some of these brands aren’t exactly the most exciting, but hopefully they’ll play a supporting role as DTLA attracts more destination stores/retail to Broadway.

  6. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing the old Hamburger’s building (aka Broadway Trade Center) get renovated and filled in by a Forever 21 flagship store.

  7. Eh. Such a double-edged sword. While this is great for the economic development of DTLA and does enable us residents to not have to leave town for most things yada yada, I’d rather see DTLA stay unique and different from the rest of LA (and everywhere else for that matter). Big name retailers like these coming in to town, that one can, and does, see in every other town and stretch of highway in American kind of sucks to me. With DTLA I guess it’s kind of you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    • Downtown can and will support both mainstream chains and unique shops. It ‘s way too large to be limited to one or the other. Broadway alone has a mile plus of contiguous flagship style retail space. Historically it has supported both unique shops and the chains of the past including Desmond’s, Silverwood’s, Woolworth’s and others. The revamped Broadway will be similar.

  8. Is there room in DTLA for small stores and uniqueness once all these chain retailers come in? I’m nervous that it’s eventually just gonna be like Old Town Pasadena / 3rd Street Promenade / the Grove. I’m all for economic success and foot traffic creating urban vibrancy… But how can dtla stay unique and special?

    • I’ve heard that the price per sq ft landlords are asking for space on Broadway is getting out of control. It may only be big chains that can take the chance soon, but there’s plenty of room for others, especially down by the Ace along 7th/8th/Olympic, etc. Plus the northern end of Broadway is still a serious dump. We need help up that way.

      • You can’t limit the discussion only to Broadway. It may become a primary thoroughfare for shopping in the future, but it won’t be the only one. We’re gradually going to see the constriction of the Jewelery District as that model loses traction. Streets like Hill, Olive etc. will start to come into play. There is a lot of untapped retail potential in downtown for both national chains and independent retailers.

        Downtown could never be Old Pasadena/3rd Street/the Grove. The built environment and sheer scale of it will allow it to remain unique and special along with its historic landmarks even with national chains added to the mix.

  9. Also on a cynical and unrelated note, can all these big stores stay successful without free parking garages like in Santa Monica, Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Culver City? It seems the lack of free parking garages is one reason places like Westwood village, Dtla, and maybe Hollywood Blvd keep floudering. Yes I know the “high cost of free parking” yadda yadda yadda but has dtla finally come far enough in its transit + walking culture that it can support all this retail without adequate free/cheap parking? Don’t get me started on the cheap parking at 7+Fig….it’s so inconvenient parking there and going to Target that I just park for free at my office three blocks away and walk there. Fine for me, but probably not find for people living more than 400m away and not right on a metro line.

    • Well, most of these brands have stores in other cities where parking isn’t assumed thing or easily available (NYC, Boston come to mind). People can take the train here and these stores will also serve the growing downtown tourist market. With enough residents too, this is basically a self-supporting ecosystem. Not right now, but maybe in 3-4 years.

      With a lot of these chain stores too, there’s one right by your house anyway. Nobody is driving from the valley to go to a store they can find near them.

      In other news, J Crew instagrammed a shot of Broadway. Interesting…

      • Part of it comes down to what type of shopping experience you’re looking for. Downtown will offer a big city experience just by the nature of it’s environment similar to what you would find in a San Francisco or Chicago. Sure – there may be similar stores in neighborhoods and malls in the area, but as Downtown continues to become a destination, you will see more and more people from throughout the region come downtown to shop as they do in Santa Monica and Pasadena. It would be nice to have accessible, easy to navigate parking as well. Hopefully the city and/or private lot owners can make this a bit easier to navigate.

  10. don’t get me wrong, i’ll be extremely happy if i don’t have to traipse all the way to some yucky mall like the grove or the americana to do my clothes shopping, but if they turn the beautiful los angeles theatre into a j. crew i’m gonna throw up. :/

  11. We need the chains downtown. Then I won’t have to travel elsewhere to shop. If you live downtown you should be able to shop downtown just like they do in NY, San Fransisco, Chicago and Seattle.

  12. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, and although J. Crew may actually be scouting for locations in DTLA, I would not put too much stock in that Instagram post. They are promoting a new line of denim products that are made in LA, Point Sur Denim.

  13. Actually Gretchen Banana Republic did this to the Coliseum Theater in downtown Seattle. They did an excellent job. http://craighardmanarchitect.com/projects/coliseum-theater-banana-republic/

    • that does look lovely, but have you been in the los angeles? it is stunning. it should be kept that way, and used as a theatre, a venue for music or otherwise…that’s all. there are plenty of other places along broadway to re-do and make into a j. crew, and after reading some of the other posts it seems as though that is not their intention anyway. whew! bring on the broadway revitalization!

  14. The 1% has decided to come back to DTLA. Yay. They haven’t graced the presence of such “urban”[poor and minority if you hate the gratuitous use of code words surrounded by ironic air quotes] areas since they tore down the beautiful victorian homes on Bunker Hill in the 80’s to build the big silver-and-glass phallic monuments to our favorite corporations(sorry, I mean people) the big banks, who continue to make our economy the envy of no one and the full speed economic engine of the country that threw the transmission into reverse in 2008. Before that, they hadn’t been around since they left those same big victorian homes during the Mad Men-esque ‘white flight’ of the 1960’s, leaving the rest of downtown to become the Mad Max-inspired wild west it was from the 70’s until very recently. The 1% is back!! They wash up on the shores of DTLA every generation it seems, like sparkly costume jewelry that looks so good but turns your wrist black, and we are supposed to cheer their return. “But we’ll get a Gap and ______(insert other worthless outlet chain here)!!! It’ll create a couple dozen minimum wage non-union retail jobs!!! And we’ll all get to buy crappy clothes without having to drive 10 minutes to the fake downtown at Glendale Galleria anymore!!” Congratulations DTLA. You’ve become worthy enough to become a shopping center. You could be so much more, baby. Oh well. They’ll be gone again in a generation or so, just be patient. In the meantime, get your hair cut at the latino hair salon on 8th just east of Hill. Go eat at the Nickel Diner with no A/C until they close soon(rumored) as the surrounding area gets a “makeover”. And walk by the $500 Acne sweaters at Broadway and 9th and laugh wildly, like you’re one of the too many untreated mentally ill living on the streets that will never, ever, ever be able to enjoy their cashmere madness. Oh well. The good news is there’s so many more of us than there are of them. And they’ll be gone again. Soon.

    • James, how do you expect downtown LA to development? In some SimCity form or fashion at your controls? Perhaps your grandparents should have bought those Victorian homes on Bunker Hill, that way they would have ensured their grandkids wouldn’t be crying foul to the economic development those phallic buildings generated over the years. Perhaps those Victorian homes could have generated millions of dollars more in tax revenues from all those preservation home group tours??!!

      And your idea of a “fake” Glendale Galleria downtown just shows the totally irony of your lack of understanding on how sprawl has affected us. Thanks to anti-growth people like you, suburban sprawl has historically pushed us out laterally in very low-density forms. Thanks to this, we don’t historically have very sustainable and walkable communities. That’s why we have these “fake” Americana Caruso type projects – to give a sense of the historic walkable neighborhoods back to the people. Agree that it is not “original”, but its a joke when you bash development and banks while bitching (at the same time) our “fake” communities.

      • Suburban sprawl happened because of “anti-growth” people? Wow, I never knew. I guess white flight and the automobile craze didn’t cause any sprawl or decrease in walkability… As for bunker hill… I guess taxpayer money / corporate welfare wasn’t used in the urban renewal program to “clean up” / completely raze bunker hill? And I guess those behemoth office buildings wouldn’t fit anywhere else but on the steepest slopes in downtown? I guess they were thinking of the most cost-effective options back then. We all know it’s so much cheaper to build on a steep slope than on flat land. I guess also I can forget about greed, gluttony, sloth, envy…. apparently NONE of which “pushed us out laterally in very low-densiy forms.” … Low density… I might use that word to describe some of these beings which roam our trashed strip-mall of a nation today, shoveling as much food in their mouths and buying as many things as they can jam in their homes just so they can feel better about how utterly empty they are in the soul. No, no… but wait… musn’t upset the masses…. apparently those are the heroes in your America. And the enemy? These mysterious “anti-growth” people you mention. You are a GENIUS!!! I can only hope you have lots of offspring and lend them your wisdom.

  15. Wow. Talk about a pessimist.

  16. And hints of an “Occupy Wall Street” type of fool to boot. The ones who shout “no justice, no peace,” while depending on all the conveniences and toys of modern civilization (ipads, cell phones, the internet, etc), via the major companies they also love to excoriate, while possibly also living in a pleasant part of town (if not the basement of their parent’s home in Brentwood or South Pasadena).

    I’m only bothered that some of them — too many of them — aren’t forced to live in the disasters they profess to being so heartfelt over. If they’re not already living the day-today experience, they should all be required to move to and survive in Cleveland or Detroit, or the still ravaged sections of downtown LA, or LA’s core as it was in the broken-down, semi-bankrupt past. Egalitarian do-gooders deserve only the best.

    • Franklin 30, why don’t YOU move to Detroit or Cleveland. You’re just as bad as “james” with your own narrow views and arrogant demeanor.

      • Talulah, why dismiss Franklin 30? He brought up a good point that james started. It’s fair game as far as I’m concerned. Why don’t you bring up your own perspectives if you think Franklin’s views were too narrow and arrogant. James views are far much worse…

        • It’s nice to have provoked some discussion, regardless of it barely rising to the level of “less than thoughtful”. Ah, Franklin 30 I think is my favorite of the corporate defender trolls, going all retro on me in his use of the classic straw-man attack. Well done! I think “non-egalitarian do-no-gooder” should be your troll moniker from now on. Funny how my views on corporations robbing us blind are so offensive, but your opinions about forced relocation of American citizens based on their political beliefs are just ho-hum. Lol.

          John G at least attempts to address some of the issues I raised, albeit dismissively. But since you asked me, I’m happy to respond. How do I expect downtown LA to develop? Hmmm, that’s a good question. What does development mean in this context? Downtown LA has been developed and re-developed for at least the past 200 years. Does development only mean trendy clothing stores? What about increasing the requirements for corporations to contribute to the development of more public parks in downtown through Quimby fees? Worked pretty great for Grand Park, but that was a negotiation by the County Sups. How about development of services for the mentally ill to help those most neglected and in need in our community? A special tax for corporations investing in DTLA to assist those services is not only the right thing to do, but actually helps make their investment in the area more profitable over the long term. With the billions being poured into DTLA right now, surely affording it can’t be the issue? See, I’m not anti-development. I just see the possibilities in what development could be as so much more than a new Gap. And sometimes I can be cynical also. So shoot me. And finally on this topic, banks are assholes. If you can’t see that after everything they’ve done to bring our country down then they could probably come and just burn your house to the ground and you’d find a reason to say why you deserved it.

          I call your fake downtowns fake because that’s what they are. Sorry if the truth hurts. I live in the real one. See, what makes a real downtown is that it’s not a perfect, clean, corporate Disneyland, where the main attractions are what new high-end chain stores have opened around a singing water fountain. it’s weird. It’s quirky. It’s loud and dirty. It scares and bewilders little suburb-termites like you because it is the opposite of the pretty, spotless, predictable landscape that makes you feel safe. But, unlike your ersatz version, it has a soul. It has a real history, with beauty, greed, passion, life, treachery, with sweat, urine and feces-stained streets. It reflects real life. Some of the best literature has been written here, not to mention the other fantastic art has been inspired here. And I don’t want that version to turn into yours. Ever. What great art was made based on inspiration from your glorified strip-mall?

          Oh, and leave my grandparents out of this. They were better people than you’ll ever be, I daresay; they were thinking people. Thanks.

          • James, first of all, I won’t label you a “troll” but I will label you a fool.

            Your way of thinking has drenched a city similar to, for example, San Francisco, yet the problems you cite with homelessness remain as intractable there as ever before.

            You also don’t mind making corporations sound like a major bogey man, yet one of the reasons LA’s civic life and prestige (for instance, contributions to cultural institutions are slacker now than ever before) has slipped is because the city, when it comes to Fortune-500 activity (which is what gives a big leg up to cities along the lines of New York City and Chicago), has become an economic also-ran, now home to fewer major companies than ever before, and also than what’s true of even smaller urban areas throughout the US.

            So, James, you’re not a troll. But you are a fool.

  17. Good news! I hope someone ends up in the current Fallas Paredes space.

  18. In case anyone has missed it, 7th St & Flower Street have been re-striped, concrete barriers have gone up and bus lines have been re-routed for 16 months. Construction mobilization at TheBloc should soon follow.

  19. @Gretchen. I’m with you. No stores in the theaters. And yes I’ve been in the Los Angeles Theater and its gorgeous.

  20. Actually Brigham, J.Crew is promoting their Point Sur premium
    Denim that is made in DTLA. This is in no way any formal announcement for a store opening, at least for now.

    Details on the link:
    https://www.jcrew.com/discovered/women/point_sur.jsp

  21. Johnny Broadway

    Broadway is coming Back! Hallelujah, I love it!

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