The reopening of Clifton’s Cafeteria at 7th and Broadway may well be Downtown LA’s most highly anticipated restaurant opening for the entire year. After years and years (and millions and millions of dollars) of restoration work and upgrades, Clifton’s Cafeteria finally opened last week on October 1 bringing back one of LA’s most cherished historical establishments. In late 2010, local downtown restaurateur Andrew Meieran (The Edison) took over Clifton’s with a long-term 50-year lease with an option to buy. For the next five and a half years, Meieran painstakingly restored both the interior and exterior of the 5-story building, updating it with incredible detail without losing any of its historical charm and character.
Last week, one of the most anticipated projects in Downtown LA finally opened after almost 4.5 years of construction and delays (click here to see when the Broad first broke ground in 2011). The $140 million Broad contemporary art museum opened its doors to the public on Sept 20th to completely full capacity. Even though the museum will have free admission forever, people still have to register and crowds still have to be controlled to maximize the museum-going experience, so attendees are limited to 400 an hour and a total of 4,000 a day. Demand is so high that tickets have been sold out for pretty much the rest of October and weekend tickets won’t be available until mid-December.
For ages, the ugly dirt lot at First and Broadway across the LA Times building sat as an eyesore and an embarrassment to LA’s disconnected Civic Center becoming a flooded pit after the occasional SoCal heavy rainfall. Definitely shameful for the nation’s second largest city in my book. Then about two years ago in August 2013, the $318 million US Federal Courthouse project finally broke ground and has been actively under construction ever since then filling in this 3.6 acre lot. About a week ago, I took a hard-hat tour of the construction site with some of the main principles involved with the project (including the building’s architect from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and contractors from Clark Construction) to give our readers an inside look at the current state of what’s going on here.
Just last week, DTLA Rising took you on an inside tour of the brand new Level tower — the very posh 303-unit corporate housing project at 9th and Olive with the amazing Vegas-style pool and amenity deck that just opened this past June. Not only do we have another gleaming new 33-story high-rise added to our growing skyline, but some very exciting new businesses are planning to open on the ground floor as well that will help activate this desolate intersection in South Park with pedestrian foot traffic. I am very excited to learn that SoulCycle and Cognoscenti Coffee will be opening here next year.
It’s so gratifying to see Onni’s South Park tower — named Level Furnished Living — finally completed after more than 2.5 years of construction. We’ve watched this thing go from an ugly surface parking lot at the corner of 9th and Olive to a gleaming new 33-story high-rise that now adds another nice dent to our growing skyline. Even more important, it now adds a significant injection of life to a still-desolate section of South Park that desperately yearns for more urban street life activity, which will be coming in the form of new restaurants and stores on Level’s ground floor.
Back in April of this year, DTLA Rising first reported that “another boutique hotel” was coming to 7th Street in Downtown LA’s moribund Jewelry District. The lucky building that will receive this new found investment, which was previously proposed for 165 new adaptive-reuse lofts, is the historic 1929 Foreman & Clark that was purchased in 2012 by a wealthy LA-based Korean doctor named Kyung Ku Cho. A reliable source had informed DTLA Rising that Cho’s group was speaking with New York’s Gansevoort Hotel but that the deal eventually fell through possibly due to internal disagreements.
Almost three years ago, we ran a story that revealed that W Hotel was looking to open a location in Downtown LA, and for the last three years I found myself wondering: “When is W finally going to come downtown?” For someone who is a huge fan of Starwood’s hippest hotel flag, I’m beyond elated for today’s good news that W has been chosen by Shenzhen Hazens to become the new “crown jewel” to anchor their new massive South Park development slated to rise across from LA Live and Staples Center.
Close to a year since One Santa Fe started leasing its 438 apartment units situated on the eastern edge of the booming Arts District, the Michael Maltzan-designed mixed-use complex is now 90% leased according to development partner Canyon Partners Real Estate LLC. The rapid pace of filling up over 390 units in less than 12 months shows the demand to live downtown remains strong. At a quarter-mile long, the One Santa Fe complex has dramatically transformed this part of the Arts District into a destination when it was once just a desolate stretch of pretty much — nothing. Now, new sidewalks and trees along with new retail stores create a much more walkable environment that benefits the long-term goal to make all of Downtown LA a pedestrian-friendly urban center.
It’s always good to see another dead zone parking lot replaced by a high quality development in Downtown LA helping to activate our growing urban center. Over at 9th and Hill on the southern edge of the Historic Core, a new exciting mixed-use tower is slated to rise on a parking lot on the northeast corner of the intersection adjacent to the highly anticipated Broadway Trade Center redevelopment project.
Coffee lovers rejoice! The wait is finally over. San Francisco’s uber popular Philz Coffee soft opened earlier today in Downtown LA at 8th and Hope with a long snaking line that wrapped all the way around the corner and down the block along Hope Street. Excited downtown residents and office workers packed the coffee shop eager to try the Bay Area chain’s highly reputable coffee and pastries known for their iced mint mojito topped with actual mint leaves.
Back during the “early days” of Downtown LA’s urban revitalization, Daily Grill was one of the first new restaurants to open in 2005 on the bottom of the Pegasus Apartments taking a chance on the still very untested downtown market at the time. God bless them for that! Now a decade later, Downtown LA has blossomed into an exciting growing urban center and Daily Grill is evolving right along side. In late March, the restaurant closed down for a complete change in concept to Daily Grill’s younger gastropub identity called Public School 213 (the area code changes based on its location).
Seriously, we’ve been waiting forever for this historic gem to reopen ever since it was closed for rehab back in March 2011, which was almost 4.5 years ago! Since then, the new owner of Clifton’s Cafeteria, Andrew Meieran, has been hard at work restoring the venerated LA institution — like bringing back the beautiful neon lights — that’s been around since 1931 when it first started out as Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria named for the famous Brookdale Lodge near Santa Cruz. Now, it’s finally, finally really happening as a new “Clifton’s job fair” ad went up on Craigslist earlier today that will take place next Monday to hire new employees.
One of the biggest complaints from residents who live in Downtown LA, including myself, has been the lack of options when it comes to good casual affordable eateries that you would find, and take for granted, in established full-service communities like Pasadena or Glendale. Not everything should be a fancy multi-million dollar restaurant with a celebrity chef helming the kitchen if our goal is to make downtown an actual livable place for residents instead of just for visitors seeking novelty. That’s why I’m happy to report that popular bakery chain Panera Bread (casual, good, and affordable) is coming to Downtown LA.
Construction has continued to hum along at The Bloc ever since the atrium roof was removed last month exposing the future now-outdoor courtyard that will become the new retail epicenter in Downtown LA’s growing shopping district when it opens later this year. While The Bloc is being made over, there is also more good news that the very, very sad Macy’s has finally begun work on their own remodeling project (that’s technically separate from The Bloc’s makeover) that will apparently upgrade it to a “flagship store” for Los Angeles according to multiple sources who are familiar with the downtown store.
Another corner in the Historic Core gets a solid new business helping to push the momentum forward. A new Floyd’s 99 Barbershop opened exactly two weeks ago at 7th and Spring on the ground floor of the historic Bartlett Building taking over the corner retail space where Andrew Meieran’s short-lived vintage collectibles shop Kinetescape used to be.