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.
I can’t believe it’s been almost 4 years since we reported that Sport Chalet signed on as one of the first major retailers to join what was then a newly remodeled FIGat7th shopping center. Now with the sporting goods chain announcing last week that it will be closing all 47 stores, including the Downtown LA flagship, this gives us an opportunity to fill in the gap that will be left behind with something else really great for the downtown community!
The Arts District in Downtown LA continues to gain momentum in its growing retail scene as the neighborhood is truly beginning to feel like the early stages of what Abbot Kinney went through in the mid-2000’s, especially along Third Street where various unique shops and restaurants are helping to create a critical mass of back-to-back businesses. I am so excited to learn that the upscale fashion house Guerilla Atelier will continue that much needed trend along Third Street by opening a new permanent flagship store after it relocates from its current location next to Urth Caffe just a few blocks away.
With the huge poke (pronounced “PO-keh”) craze going on right now all across LA — you know, those yummy Hawaiian-inspired sashimi bowls usually served with rice or salad — you’d think downtown’s hot South Park district would’ve gotten its own dedicated poke shop a whole lot sooner. Well, one is finally opening later this year under the posh apartment tower at 8th and Hope. As a huge poke fan, this will be a very welcome addition to the neighborhood adding to a much needed diversity of food options that’s slowly coming together here in downtown.
City West is one of Downtown LA’s least talked about community districts — sorta like the red-headed stepchild of the DTLA family! But that’s only because it hasn’t hit a critical mass yet (not enough restaurants, stores, residential developments, etc.), and there’s still that inconvenient chasm known as the 110 Freeway that divides it from the rest of the Financial District core. Nevertheless, things are slowly changing as more mixed-use projects are added (like the 210-unit 1111 Wilshire that opened in 2013), which will help usher in a new urban energy that will create the stronger pedestrian cross-flow between City West and the Financial District. And part of that exciting change is the addition of a new adaptive-reuse project called The Mint that is filling up with new residents who now call City West home.
Onni Group is the first thing I think of when I hear “Vancouver developer” in the Downtown LA development scene (especially after they just added their beautiful 33-story Level tower at 9th and Olive to our growing DTLA skyline). However, a new Canadian player is coming into town. Bonnis Properties, also Vancouver-based, has just completed the acquisition of the historic Foreman & Clark building at 7th and Hill for a whopping $52 million ($353 a square foot) according to broker Derrick Moore of Avison Young who represented Bonnis Properties.
The Historic Core’s Broadway Spring Arcade, once lined with a hodgepodge of swap meet vendors, is now finally beginning to shape up nicely as more artisanal eateries slowly begin to open inside this historic linear corridor that acts as a pedestrian cut-through between Broadway and Spring Street. Over the last almost three years, it seems like only one or two eateries have opened per a year starting with Crepes Sans Frontieres, but it’s finally starting to turn a corner (i.e., heading toward a critical mass akin to Grand Central Market’s amazing success). Earlier this month, Garçons de Café opened on the side closer to Broadway in the arcade bringing to the Historic Core a novel French retail-wine-bar concept.
Aren’t pretty much all bookstores beautiful in some way? There’s nothing like walking into a store filled with books filled with all that wonderful knowledge to feed the mind. And what’s even more beautiful to me as a passionate urbanist is seeing another amazing bookstore like Hennessey and Ingalls open here in Downtown LA, continuing the trend of centralizing (or consolidating) some of the best LA has to offer into the region’s most walkable, transit-oriented urban center — the best antidote for LA’s insurmountable suburban sprawl.
You probably smelled the subtle aroma of sweet donuts and coffee today if you were standing on the corner of 8th and Olive in Downtown LA. That’s because DTLA’s very first Dunkin’ Donuts (sometimes referred to as just “Dunkin” or “DD”) had its grand opening today opening its doors bright and early at 5 am with an outdoor ribbon cutting ceremony held at 9:30 am. Throughout the day, hundreds of people — most of them office workers and residents who live and work downtown — streamed into the new Dunkin’ happily carrying out boxes of donuts and cups of coffee.
This past Sunday, the highly anticipated art gallery Hauser Wirth & Schimmel opened its doors to the public for the first time. The massive art complex that spans almost an entire city block bounded by 3rd, Garey, and 2nd Street, not only adds a highly prestigious blue chip gallery to Downtown LA’s Arts District (no doubt a huge win for Los Angeles overall), but also immediately becomes a neighborhood anchor that will grow into a community hub, helping to strengthen the residential and commercial developments that have defined the new very hot Arts District.
Cross Campus has become one of the most successful coworking spaces founded in Los Angeles. The first Cross Campus opened in Santa Monica in 2012 catering to the robust tech sector found in Silicon Beach with another location opening in Old Pasadena in late 2014. Now the biggest Cross Campus yet is slated to open in the next month in the heart of Downtown LA’s bustling Financial District, which is now surrounded by frenetic economic activity all around.
It’s been a little while since something big was announced at 9th and Broadway, which has become the epicenter of Downtown LA’s new high-end retail shopping hub in the making anchored by the catalytic Ace Hotel that opened in 2014. A trusted source has revealed the next exciting retailer to be added to this growing shopping mecca becoming akin to New York’s trendy SoHo district. Next up, opening on the ground floor of the stunning Eastern Columbia Art Deco masterpiece will be the upscale German eyewear brand Mykita opening only their second retail store in the country.
For those of us keeping track of Downtown LA’s urban revitalization progress, the new Wilshire Grand tower under construction has been one of the proudest and most exciting projects for Angelenos who dream of DTLA becoming the region’s crown jewel once again. What will become the West Coast’s new tallest skyscraper designed by LA-based AC Martin has been rising steadily since it broke the record for the world’s largest continuous concrete pour in early 2014. Now after two years of climbing higher and higher into the sky, the tower is beginning to reach its aspired height of 1,100 feet tall, which will dramatically enhance the growing DTLA skyline.
What was supposed to open last November, and even with all the delays plaguing The Bloc (with some potentially serious financial consequences coming up in April with an updated statement regarding this from The Bloc see below), there are definitely also some silver linings that we can all still be excited about. One of those bright spots is the amazing makeover happening inside the Macy’s department store (although technically separate from The Bloc’s own $180 million makeover project). It seemed a bit far-fetched at the time, but checking out the improvements made inside, it really is starting to live up to the expectations of becoming a new bona fide flagship store for Los Angeles.
One of the Westside’s favorite salad bar eateries is making its way eastward to Downtown LA. Mrs. Winston’s Green Grocery (popular with celebs!) with two locations in Santa Monica and one in Century City is opening its fourth store here on Figueroa, replacing the former ground floor Greenland Metropolis sales office at 888 S Figueroa.