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.
The painfully slow revitalization of Broadway continues. First reported on CAN, I am happy to report more details that a prominent national chain is finally taking over a dilapidated structure — known by many as the “Blue Jeans” building — located at 749 S Broadway near the up-and-coming 8th and Broadway intersection where the Apple Store rumors still persist. A new retail concept from Foot Locker is slated to open here that will hopefully continue to nudge other retailers to open along Broadway in Downtown LA.
Downtown LA, an urban center still starved of various shopping options and other retail amenities, has been eagerly and anxiously awaiting for the completion of The Bloc. The massive $180 million remodeling project, which sits squarely in the middle of the bustling Financial District, has been delayed for almost a year (it was “supposed to be” done last November). Even so, the project has slowly started to come to life with the recent opening of the interior courtyard (once covered by an ugly atrium) and the beautiful makeovers inside Macy’s and the newly upgraded Sheraton Grand Hotel. In addition, it’s exciting to see that one of the shopping center’s original tenants, LA Fitness, has also relocated its once tired space into a brand new one that reflects the new downtown.
You really can’t have a livable community without having access to good healthcare services. As downtown continues to mature as an established urban center, it is critical that it offers its residents a variety of medical resources since people are bound to get sick and accidents do happen. That’s why I’m so excited that an actual real urgent care has opened here in Downtown LA’s rapidly developing South Park district. Last month, Reliant Urgent Care opened a brand new state-of-the-art facility directly across the street from the new massive $1 billion Metropolis project.
Something new and exciting is coming to LA Live — RETAIL! The mega development by AEG that helped jump start the Downtown LA renaissance over a decade ago has focused almost entirely on restaurants and entertainment venues leaving out the all-important retail stores that also help attract shoppers. In other words, you can “eat,” you can “play,” but unfortunately you can’t “shop” at LA Live. But soon that’s about to change a bit as one of Downtown LA’s first pioneer retailers, Brigade LA, will be opening its brand new flagship store here at LA Live.
It’s here! The much loved Taiwanese bakery 85ºC is officially open in Downtown LA at the corner of Wilshire and Hope in the heart of the Financial District. A soft opening event yesterday attracted hundreds of downtown office workers and residents as they lined up excited to try out the delicious pastries and drinks the bakery is known for (each person was allowed to choose three free items as part of the soft opening event). The line stretched half way down the block along Wilshire Blvd with many I spoke to in line trying 85 Degrees for the first time. Judging by the happy smiles on everyone’s faces, I wouldn’t be surprised if the bakery just gained a whole bunch of new regular customers.
In case you missed it, Downtown LA has a new commander overseeing the Central Division. Captain Howard Leslie, a 29-year police department veteran, joins the Central Division (he started on March 20, 2016) at a challenging time for DTLA, and with almost 60,000 residents (and growing) calling the Central City home, the stakes have never been higher. In the last 12 months, crime has risen across most major categories in downtown along with homelessness. Captain Leslie brings a practical approach to law enforcement by embracing transparency and community-based policing. And as a strong pedestrian advocate, I am elated that he recognizes the growing pedestrian culture here in Downtown LA, which can be seen by his planned focus on educating about safety instead of penalizing with hefty fines.
One of the biggest disappoints I still have with Carmel’s 8th/Grand project is they didn’t activate the Olive Street side of the mixed-use building with any retail space. Currently the project facing Olive is comprised mostly of a blank wall and a portion of glass windows set aside for the building’s residential fitness center. I really wish that Whole Foods was designed with at least some kind of back entrance that would address the street a bit better instead of focusing all its attention on Grand Ave. In any case, that’s why I am so excited that Chicas Tacos is opening on Olive Street that will help fill in the void created by 8th/Grand.
In another sign that the 8th Street corridor is seriously becoming the next hot spot in Downtown LA (check out my recent interview about 8th Street on the FOX 11 noon show), another favorite eatery will be making its way to the corner of 8th and Hill. Paris Baguette, a bakery that was actually founded in South Korea in 1986, has signed a lease to open its first DTLA location next to the upcoming Shake Shack and Sweetgreen, which are also currently two of the most sought after restaurants in the country. Now adding Paris Baguette bakery to the mix will really sweeten things up even more.
This has got to be one of the most exciting milestones in LA’s march towards urbanization (i.e., making our city more walkable and transit-oriented). One of the largest urban nodes in LA — Santa Monica — is now finally linked into our growing regional rail network, which now includes 105 miles of Metro rail track. The long, long-awaited opening of the last leg of the 6.6 mile Expo Line Phase II has finally arrived after five years of construction, testing, and anticipation. Finally! Angelenos can now take the train from Downtown LA to the beach and vice versa.
One of the most exciting mega projects under construction right now in Downtown LA is the massive Oceanwide Plaza being built on Figueroa directly across the street from the Staples Center. The $1 billion project is really the missing bookend to LA Live, a project by AEG completed in 2010 that focused almost exclusively on restaurants and nightlife venues leaving out the all-important retail component that attracts shoppers. An exciting new fly-through video has been released by Chinese developer Oceanwide showcasing the project’s flashy two-story ground-floor commercial space — now aptly named The Collection at Oceanwide Plaza — that will likely be filled in with a slew of new upscale retailers and restaurants, especially if the uber-upscale Park Hyatt signs on as the project’s hotel operator.
Some exciting news from yesterday out of the LA Business Journal. The business-focused publication all but confirmed our initial report that the Apple Store is taking over the ornate Tower Theatre at 8th and Broadway. In case you missed it, DTLA Rising first came out with the substantiated rumor from an “inside” source posted last year in November that Apple was looking at taking over the historic entertainment venue for their new DTLA store location, which would become one of Apple’s most unique stores in the nation.
We’ve been waiting for this one for what seems like — forever. Even though we only really found out about a year ago that Bunker (or “BNKR”) was opening downtown, but it’s the location that makes this retailer from Australia extra significant and exciting to DTLA’s urban revitalization. The fashion forward brand based in Adelaide (Australia’s fifth largest city) quietly opened its doors for business last Saturday (spotted by Racked LA) at the very hot intersection of 9th and Broadway, which has become one of the main epicenters in Downtown LA’s fragmented but expanding shopping scene.
With literally thousands of pets living in DTLA, it’s kind of surprising there aren’t more pet stores scattered all around downtown, especially in the South Park and Financial District neighborhoods where a large concentration of residents live. Well, that’s about to change. Soon downtown residents will have a new place to shop catering to their furry friends when Unleashed by Petco opens later this year in South Park.
Last week was so much fun! I was invited by local TV affiliate FOX 11 to come on their noon show to discuss my favorite subject, DTLA of course, and to share with viewers Downtown LA’s growing stature as the country’s most exciting up-and-coming urban center.