I really gotta hand it to The Ratkovich Company. After they purchased Macy’s Plaza in May 2013 from Jamison, it’s been nothing but positive changes that have happened under their new ownership as the fortress-looking shopping center built in 1972 (now renamed The Bloc) is in the midst of being completely remodeled from head-to-toe. Not only is the new tenant mix super exciting (i.e., SF’s Wingtip men’s store, Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, etc.), but Ratkovich is doing everything they can to make the center approachable and pedestrian friendly, including the 8th Street side of the property located “in the back” of the complex. Because of the parking entrances and loading docks that must remain, it was tougher to figure out how to engage pedestrians on 8th Street. Ratkovich decided to implement permanent artistic murals on the large blank walls that line the south side of the property.
Work started on the first of two murals back in early November 2014. Artist Chris Lux from San Francisco was commissioned to do the first mural, which actually includes two separate sections that flank the property on opposite sides of the block. Lux completed his artwork — a colorful menagerie of cartoon-like figures representing the diversity of Los Angeles — toward the end of the month.
The other mural by local artist firm Sumi Ink Club began work later in November taking over the center of the block where the driveways are for parking and loading. Sumi Ink’s mural — a black-and-white motif of various cheerful abstract images — was completed in December and stands in stark contrast to Lux’s colorful rendition.
Now fully completed, both murals have added a fun and cheerful presence to the once-desolate streetscape. Taken together, the murals have successfully spruced up an otherwise “dead wall space” making for a much more enjoyable pedestrian experience. And keep in mind, there is also a synergistic relationship between the new murals at The Bloc and the new 22-story 8th+Hope luxury apartment tower across the street, which is getting a new Philz Coffee from San Francisco later this year.
The Bloc continues with major construction slated for completion in October (yes 9 months from now!).