Bunker Hill is finally starting to feel more coherent now with the completion of The Broad museum (opening Sept 20th) and the Emerson luxury apartments that filled in two major empty deadzones on Grand Ave. Fortunately, more much-needed upgrades are coming to Bunker Hill that will help make the district more inviting, less fortressy. One California Plaza owned by Beacon Capital Partners — a 42-story office tower designed by renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson — is well in the process of remodeling its retail corridor, which sits underneath the main pedestrian walkway that connects the entire California Plaza, which includes the taller 52-story Two California Plaza owned by CIM Group, to MOCA and the Colburn School next door.
Designed by Gensler, the first phase of remodeling work for the retail corridor now rebranded as “1Cal Marketplace” (instead of Water Court) has been completed. What used to resemble a dark unwelcoming cave with dropped ceilings and ugly fluorescent lights has been given the modern touch. The once dated space has been opened up exposing the concrete ceiling for an updated industrial vibe accented with bright cheerful colors (splashes of green and blue), and now lighted by modern and bright LED pendant lamps. The concrete blocks painted blue and green jutting down from the ceiling are actually planters with trees above located on the pedestrian walkway.
In addition, new seating (bright white tables and chairs) have been added including wooden benches set against the wall to soften the space dominated by granite and concrete. To encourage people to linger awhile, handy outlets have been added to new wooden bar tables powering mobile devices so they can take advantage of the free WiFi available.
The renamed 1Cal Marketplace, which contains about 15,000 square feet of retail space (not including Two California Plaza), will be rebranded by this fall with new business signs and wayfinding signage designed by architect firm ESI Design out of New York. Two new businesses have opened up here as part of phase one (out of two phases) including Indian eatery Saffron and one of Downtown LA’s original wine shops, Gourmet Wines & Spirits, which relocated from 626 Wilshire (where City Athletix is today). Mendocino Farms’ original location from 2004 is here and will soon be getting an exciting makeover as well.
Finishing by July, phase two of the makeover project will continue the exisiting improvements from phase one through the rest of One Cal Plaza’s retail corridor, which currently has a couple of tenants including Salata and Dan’s Deli. More new restaurants will be signing on including a new Corner Bakery and a coffee shop. Altogether, the makeover project will cost just over $1 million.
The rest of the 42-story office tower will also receive major upgrades to the lobby and the addition of a new 2,500 square foot rooftop patio deck for law firm Nixon Peabody, which leased out the top two floors of the tower last year and moving into their new office space later this year.