Okay, so this is both exciting and not surprising at the same time. The Office Depot strip mall in the middle of bustling Little Tokyo completed in 2001, also referred to by its lesser known name “The Shops at 2nd and Central,” may be redeveloped into something much more appropriate for its Regional Connector-adjacent location in the not-so-distant future.
I first heard about the rumors in January earlier this year, and now the cat is sort of coming out of the bag as I’ve been hearing about it more and more from various sources all over. Basically, it looks like the current tenants — Office Depot, Shin Sen Gumi, Starbucks, Yogurtland, etc — will have to leave in about “a couple of years” to make way for, presumably, a mixed-use project. (Side note: Shin Sen Gumi must remain in Little Tokyo in my opinion.) Calls and emails to the owner of the complex, Santa Monica-based Levy Affiliated, asking for more info have not been returned.
Given the amount of development and money pouring into the immediate area, it is actually somewhat surprising it’s taken this long to begin hearing about redevelopment plans for such an underutilized piece of property in such an amazing location. The large 2.2-acre site (with its 36,000 square foot strip mall and suburban-style surface parking lot) sits directly adjacent to what will become one of the busiest subway stations on the West Coast (transit-oriented), and faces the main pedestrian corridor along 2nd Street that links the Arts District with the rest of Downtown LA.
So far, there doesn’t seem to be any known definitive plans on what will happen to the property except that current tenants will likely vacate in a couple of years. I am hoping that whoever does end up redeveloping the site (could the property be sold to Chinese developers like so many in downtown?), that they focus on adding back the same amount of retail space, if not more, instead of shrinking it down to a few thousand square feet like so many mixed-use projects in Downtown LA. Washington DC’s 890,000 square foot retail project in Columbia Heights, D.C. USA, comes to mind as an urban retail format that I would love to see built here in Little Tokyo (perhaps a smaller version), if not somewhere else in Downtown LA (Mitsui Fudosan’s 8th/Fig?) as we are starved of so many basic retail options other cities take for granted.
The Shops at 2nd and Central Today
Future Model? D.C. USA Urban Retail Project in Columbia Heights