Lots of activated retail spaces are one of the main keys to unlocking the full potential of any urban setting no matter where you are, and Downtown LA is no exception. If you want Downtown LA to succeed, you gotta have ground floor retail — everywhere. Think about it. Almost any vibrant urban center you visit that’s walkable and vibrant — whether that’s Manhattan, London, Madrid, or Tokyo — is usually filled to the brim with dense back-to-back retail and restaurants on the ground floor (and in Tokyo’s case on the upper and lower levels as well!). So for an ardent urban advocate like myself who yearns for LA to become truly walkable one day, I am constantly looking for signs that Downtown LA is maturing into a serious urban center. That’s why I’m so excited to see that 801 S Grand is adding that critical piece of the urban puzzle with an ongoing retail space expansion project that will transform this corner into a vibrant urban setting.
Big news comes to South Park this week regarding the massive Oceanwide Plaza project being built across the street from the Staples Center and LA Live complex. The Wall Street Journal released an article this past Monday confirming our initial report that Park Hyatt has been chosen to anchor the $1 billion mixed-user, ousting the still-untested Roberto Cavalli hotel brand that was originally slated to go into the Oceanwide Plaza. DTLA Rising first reported that Park Hyatt was the likely replacement for Cavalli back in Feb 2016.
Anyone who stands at the corner of 9th and Broadway in Downtown LA can see the writing on the wall. What used to be an intersection devoid of life is now humming with an urban pulse that’s only going to get stronger with time. Not too long ago, the intersection was dominated by check cashing centers and abandoned vacant storefronts. Now a few years later, the scene is quite different with high-end retail businesses anchoring almost all four corners and rippling out into adjacent nearby buildings and intersections including 9th and Main, which is also becoming another hot spot with Verve Coffee serving as the neighborhood’s central gathering place. And things seem to be only looking up as another high-end retailer, this time an exclusive Berlin eyewear brand called MYKITA, has just opened their newest Los Angeles outpost here at 9th and Broadway.
I can’t believe it’s finally done! And I’m not just talking about the three years it took to finish building the newest — and might I add, very striking — edifice now added proudly to Downtown LA’s expansive Civic Center. Yes, the new shiny and environmentally-friendly US Courthouse is officially complete with the first federal judges planning to move in by early November. But it took a lot longer than three years to get to this point as the federal building was proposed all the way back in 2001. You might remember that this 3.6 acre lot that the new courthouse sits on was once nothing more than an abandoned dirt lot that was not only a huge embarrassing eyesore to Los Angeles’s name but was also a significant reason why the Civic Center was, and still is to a certain degree, severely disjointed (there are other reasons why the Civic Center lacks coherency that you can read about here).
As a resident of South Park, I can tell you that one of the hardest things about living here is the lack of casual, affordable food options to choose from (especially for dinner). A wide variety of fast casual restaurants that other communities take for granted are pretty much absent here in many parts of Downtown LA. It makes living downtown inconvenient as I frequently feel like I have to leave downtown just to grab a quick bite to eat for dinner. That, to me, totally defeats the purpose of living in an urban center where the idea of walking downstairs easily from your mixed-use residence and being able to choose from a wide variety of eateries should be a normal and standard process. Of course, I have to remind myself many times that DTLA is still a fledgling and growing urban center and has not matured quite yet. With all the being said, that’s why I’m super excited that a new Chipotle is planning to open in South Park soon.
I’ve been watching TEN50 rise from my apartment window for the last couple years. I’ve watched it go from a hole in the ground to a gleaming new tower developed by Trumark Urban and designed by DTLA-based Hanson LA Architecture. It’s been a constant reminder for me every time I look outside that South Park is growing and finally about to hit a critical mass that will transform a once desolate landscape dominated by lifeless parking lots into a vibrant urban community that’s dense and walkable. As an urban enthusiast who understands that mixed-use density is the main key to unlocking Downtown LA’s full potential, I am so excited that in a few months, new residents will be moving into this brand new tower.
The good news just keeps on coming for 7th Street! Last week, we broke the news that the ever-so-popular Halal Guys, which has become a nationally recognized name starting from its humble beginnings as a street cart in NYC, signed a lease to replace the former Brigade LA clothing store near 7th/Olive. And now this week another exciting eatery development is taking place less than two blocks away also on 7th Street.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a HUGE fan of the original Halal Guys from New York, which started out in 1990 at 53rd and 6th Ave in the heart of Midtown. The first time I tried it back in 2003, I became a fan immediately. Even so, to be frank, I was skeptical that they could translate those delicious platters of chicken and gyro meat with rice to a brick and mortar format and still be able to keep that authentic “street cart” flavor intact. Boy, was I glad I was wrong. After trying multiple Halal Guys in various places (Costa Mesa, Koreatown, and even Las Vegas), I’ve consistently enjoyed it every time. It’s become one of my favorite go-to spots for fast and delicious casual food that always hits the spot. That’s why I’m SUPER excited Halal Guys is planning to open their first DTLA location next year here along 7th Street!
This past Labor Day weekend, something exciting happened in Downtown LA while many were probably out of town or perhaps completely unaware (but should be!). The 73-story, AC Martin-designed Wilshire Grand Tower, located at 7th and Figueroa — one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in Southern California — officially became the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast (taking the title away from another DTLA landmark, the US Bank/Library Tower) when construction workers lifted and secured the final piece of the tower’s soaring signature spire — a first of its kind in all of Los Angeles known for its flat-roofed skyscrapers.
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.
Can you believe it’s been exactly two years since 8th and Hope was completed? The 22-story glass tower with 290 rentals developed by Wood Partners replaced an ugly, anti-pedestrian surface parking lot, helping to bridge the urban landscape for pedestrians walking between South Park and the Financial District. The tower’s ground floor retail has filled up over the last two years with three new eateries (Philz Coffee, Hoke Poke, and Jersey Mike’s Subs) that have helped activate the sidewalk with much-needed pedestrian activity, contributing to the growing urban energy that makes Downtown LA so exciting. Well, I’m glad to report there’s one more eatery that will be opening here.
Philz Coffee opened its first Downtown LA location exactly a year ago with huge lines and lots of excitement from avid coffee drinkers. The location at 8th/Hope surrounded by tons of residents and office workers was an instant home run becoming one of the busiest cafes in DTLA. Their down-to-earth service and no-attitude vibe definitely doesn’t hurt on top of having great tasting coffee. Well, now get ready for another Philz Coffee to open downtown, this time on the fringe of the developing Arts District.
As a resident of Downtown LA’s South Park district, it’s been frustrating for me to always have to leave downtown to eat. To me, there’s truly a lack of good and affordable eateries nearby that I can have on my regular go-to list. Most restaurants that have opened downtown in general in the last several years have been trendy and pricey establishments that are fantastic at attracting outsiders to come dine in Downtown LA, but not really geared toward full-time residents like myself. That’s why anytime there’s a new restaurant that opens downtown that’s good and affordable, it gets me all extra excited! If you live or work downtown, especially in South Park and the Financial District, you have to put this on your regular rotation: Eko Eats at 6th and Hope.
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.