Remember when we ran our post last year asking the question: “Can Little Tokyo keep its Japanese flavor in Downtown LA?” As the urban revival continued both within and around Little Tokyo (especially the adjacent red hot Arts District), many worried, including myself, that Little Tokyo’s strong Japanese roots would be chipped away as one of the community’s most significant properties — the historic Brunswig Square at 2nd and Central — was kicking out its Japanese restaurants (i.e., Kokekokko) with plans to replace them with non-Asian concepts. The landlord GreenOak Real Estate Advisors had little regard for the community and basically wanted to turn Little Tokyo into the Arts District. Bad, bad move in my opinion. Well THANK GOODNESS GreenOak sold the property to Jamestown Properties who last year after reading our alarming piece reached out to me with the much appreciated intent to listen to my concerns about keeping Little Tokyo intact.
This week, I met with reps from Jamestown again who had exciting news to share with me and my readers. Three exciting recent developments happening at the Brunswig are proving that Jamestown is a responsible landlord who understands that you can upgrade your property without negatively impacting the fundamental cultural integrity of the community you’re in. Maintaining cultural authenticity does NOT necessarily mean you can’t bring in the “new” as many NIMBYs who fear change fail to understand. But understanding the positive attributes of the historical context could actually benefit you in the long run as a property owner. That’s something that Jamestown understands.
So here are three highlights I wanted to share with you.
- Izakaya restaurant, Ebisu, has RENEWED its lease with Jamestown. The 3,250 square foot restaurant’s lease term was expiring soon, and instead of trying to kick it out, the landlord worked with them to renew the lease allowing them to continue serving in Little Tokyo.
- The Hawaiian poke craze, which has strong Japanese and Asian influence, just seems to keep on going in Los Angeles. SpinFish Poke House, with locations in Pasadena and Santa Monica, will be taking over a 1,225 square foot space along 2nd Street opening in early 2017.
- And BIG NEWS here. Tech ed favorite, General Assembly, has signed a 10,150 square foot lease taking over almost the entire 4th floor office space of the eight-story Brunswig Square. General Assembly, which offers career training for the millennial generation geared toward the high-tech modern economy like web design and digital marketing, will relocate from its current temporary digs at The Reef.
Jamestown is actively in the midst of upgrading the Brunswig property from top to bottom. The entire lobby is undergoing a beautiful remodeling job changing out the flooring to white marble, highlighting the Art Deco features, and adding artistic touches like a new mural painting.
I really thank Jamestown for reaching out to me again and for being so transparent and engaging. I am now more optimistic that Little Tokyo will continue to be a thriving cultural asset highlighting the Japanese community that successfully balances the old with the new.