Walking along Spring Street between 7th and 8th is still sort of a bummer for a pedestrian. It’s one block along an otherwise vibrant Spring St that’s in serious need of help because it’s rudely interrupted by a bunch of ugly surface parking lots and a serious lack of ground floor retail activation. In other words, it’s pretty dead. Even so, some early signs of positive change for this block include eateries like Juice Crafters and Fresh Panini as well as the forthcoming Spring Ivy next to the renovated Corporation Building into creative office. Oh, and we’re crossing our fingers that the new CVS at 7th/Spring won’t turn into another “Ride Aid” (looking at you 5th/Broadway). But what about those pesky parking lots that suck pedestrian life out of city blocks? That’s why I’m super excited to learn that one of the largest parking lots left along Spring St (at 8th adjacent to the 168-unit historic Chapman Lofts) is now being marketed to developers in search of “one of the last remaining development sites in Downtown Los Angeles.”
Category Archives: architecture
New gelato cafe, Gelateria Uli, opened this Monday inside the Broadway-Spring Arcade, one of Downtown LA’s most unique and beautiful historic buildings. The new dessert shop, owned by downtown resident Uli Nasibova, joins both Crepes Sans Frontieres (opened in 2013) and Famima (opened in 2012) as the arcade’s new businesses that are helping to transform this historic pedestrian corridor into an exciting and thriving center once again.
A very, very exciting mixed-use project is in the early planning stages over in El Pueblo just north of the 101 freeway and south of Chinatown, which is the historic birthplace of Downtown LA, and to a greater extent, the birthplace of Los Angeles itself. In fact, the oldest residence still standing in Los Angeles, Avila Adobe built in 1818, remains one of Downtown LA’s main visitor attractions located on historic Olvera Street within El Pueblo. Now, exciting plans are taking shape to further enhance and strengthen El Pueblo allowing for both visitors and Angelenos alike to embrace and appreciate the historic value of the district. A non-profit foundation based in El Pueblo called LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes is currently in the process of selecting a developer to build two mixed-use projects, named “LA Plaza Cultura Village,” on two county-owned parking lots just west of the foundation’s headquarters on Main Street that will connect El Pueblo to its surrounding communities including Chinatown and Union Station.
It’s been almost a whole year (last May 2013) since we found out that Le Pain Quotidien (aka LPQ) was coming to the PacMutual in Downtown LA. After a little delay — it was supposed to open in February this year — LPQ finally opened last Saturday about a week ago and has been serving up breakfast and lunch with a menu of tartines, quiches, soups and salads along with coffee and tea paired with an array of fresh yummy pastries.
South Park in Downtown LA just keeps getting hotter and hotter! Recently announced are a slew of new proposed shiny high-rises set to break ground in the next year or so that will give our growing skyline a major shot in the arm — how exciting! Now let’s add another tower to the mix, this time at the northeast corner of 9th and Hope also in South Park (directly adjacent to the u/c boutique “Empire Hotel“). The new 33-story residential tower — to be called “888 South Hope” — will be developed by CIM Group, which just recently purchased Two Cal Plaza on Bunker Hill and also developed the Market-Gas Company Lofts across the street.
NBC 4 News Follow-up to DTLA Rising’s Coverage on Downtown LA’s Library Tower Going Hotel/Residential
Watch NBC 4 News story about Library Tower going hotel/residential in Downtown LA
In case you missed it last week, LA’s NBC 4 local news ran a cool follow-up story to DTLA Rising’s recent exclusive coverage of Library Tower in the early feasibility planning stages of becoming one of the largest adaptive-reuse projects in Downtown LA history. The 73-story office high-rise is still the tallest skyscraper west of Chicago and a big portion of it could become residential and hotel along with an exciting and much desired observation deck for visitors to LA. Reporter Jane Yamamoto mentions in the newscast a very interesting new detail regarding when we might learn more about this possible exciting hotel/resi conversion project!
Broadway is now the center of attention in Downtown LA when it comes to urban revitalization. The 1.5 mile stretch through the heart of downtown contains arguably the most architecturally significant collection of historic buildings in Southern California with its impressive 12 movie theatre palaces (one of them, the Rialto, recently converted to a fancy Urban Outfitters) and stand-out edifices like the gorgeous art deco Eastern Columbia and the infinitely ornate Bradbury Building built in 1893. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Broadway’s historic gems still remain in bad shape covered in decades worth of neglect with caked layers of grime, filth, and pollution. One of the most important parts of cleaning up Broadway is not only to activate the ground floor with high quality shops and eateries, but to also activate the upper floors with creative office spaces among other viable commercial usages. It’s something LA Councilman Jose Huizar’s office is pushing for through an updated “commercial adaptive reuse ordinance.” And that’s why I’m so excited to see a new coworking space called BLANKSPACES open on the upper floor of a historic building near 5th/Broadway. It gives me a glimpse of what else we can expect to see for the future of Broadway’s upper floors.
Just last week, we saw some pretty exciting activity happening at the Trinity Auditorium at 9th and Grand Ave. Brand new mattresses were delivered and plywood boards that covered up the doors and windows of the historic structure for years — concealing the construction activity inside — were finally removed allowing pedestrians who walked by to get a first glimpse into a mysterious hotel development that has perplexed the downtown community for almost a decade since the Gansevoort West Hotel debacle. Thanks to our valiant downtown photographer, Hunter Kerhart, we are offered a first peek inside the surprisingly (and thank goodness!) beautiful work being completed inside as the hotel really begins to take shape. And some more digging online reveals more juicy details about the forthcoming Empire Hotel in Downtown LA.
The mystery that surrounds the historic Trinity Auditorium continues (like its mysterious cousin the Hotel Clark near Pershing Square). New York-based Chetrit Group, who owns the Trinity located at 9th/Grand, has mostly shied away from media providing little information about future development plans for the historic edifice (once destined to become the Gansevoort West Hotel from NY’s Meatpacking District). We all know that it still involves a hotel project, but we have no idea what the timeline is or what it’s going to look like, etc. But little by little, some information has been revealed overtime that provides a somewhat clearer picture of what’s happening at the Trinity. For instance, in 2011 signs pointed to a King & Grove Hotel as the potential new brand for the Trinity. Then in 2012, a Notice of Public Hearing said the Trinity would actually be named “Empire Hotel” and would come with 183 rooms and a rooftop pool and bar. Now just this week, the plywood that boarded up the windows along the sidewalk, for what seemed like an eternity, has been removed revealing new windows behind.
After more than two and a half years of construction, Chinatown’s very first market rate housing development called Jia Apartments is now officially open. Developed, owned, and managed by Equity Residential, the new mixed-use project — with a new Starbucks opening in early April and a couple more restaurants in lease negotiations — rises six stories adjacent to the striking Chinatown gateway with its twin golden dragons guarding the Broadway entry. Jia Apartments, which cost $93 million to develop, signals a new economic incline for Chinatown as more money is being invested into this northern district of Downtown LA. Finally, Chinatown joins the rest of downtown’s development wave that has reinvigorated the city center with new life and regional relevancy.
Several independent sources have informed me that some very big and exciting changes are in the preliminary planning stages for Library Tower in Downtown LA. Last year, Library Tower (aka US Bank Tower) was purchased by Singapore-based Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE) for $367.5 million from MPG according to the LA Times. The 73-story office high-rise stands at 1,018 feet tall and still holds the title of tallest skyscraper west of Chicago. However, Library Tower also has one of the highest office vacancies downtown hovering at around 45% (that’s 585,000 square feet of empty space out of 1.3 million total). In an effort to turn the property around and raise the profile of OUE’s new LA acquisition, the Asian investment company had to think outside of the box as the office market has been stubbornly soft and more and more companies are shying away from traditional office space in favor of creative spaces. But wait a minute: everyone knows that the red hot economic engine downtown has involved both residential and hotel developments. Aha!
Watch Onni’s 32-story apartment tower u/c rise halfway up in just 21 seconds!
Downtown resident, Aileen Viray, sends in this cool time-lapse video she put together — starting last November and ending just last week in February — tracking the progress at 9th and Olive where Onni’s new apartment tower is actively under construction. The high-rise has now risen exactly halfway up with work starting on the 17th floor (out of 32 floors total). Construction has been humming at the site since Jan 2013 just over a year ago when groundbreaking commenced. Vancouver-based Onni Group is developing this new mixed-use apartment tower, currently dubbed 888 Olive St., and will eventually bring to market 283-units for rent and add 11,000 square feet of retail space to the corner intersection.
Last week, I got an awesome tour of Union Station from Metro’s Deputy Executive Officer of Countywide Planning, Jenna Hornstock. I learned about some very exciting changes coming to the busiest rail station west of the Mississippi. Basically, you have two different timelines for planned improvement projects: short term and long term changes. Both are very exciting because it means Union Station is going to get better and better and play a much more prominent and vital role in our region’s growing mass transit network.
This past Valentine’s Day was another major, major milestone in Downtown LA’s continued march forward toward urban renewal and revitalization. The Metropolis project, which is a 6.3 acre development site (currently an ugly surface parking lot) on the western edge of downtown abutting the 110 freeway, held a ceremonial ground breaking event that finally secured the fate of the long-delayed project.
Downtown LA is getting a new, dare I say, sexy parking structure in north South Park at 8th and Francisco. I usually wouldn’t consider a new parking structure newsworthy, but this project is being designed with a lot more thought and concern for aesthetics, so I thought it should be highlighted as an example for other parking structures to follow. Designed by Downtown LA-based architect firm, LeanArch, the parking structure is being developed by landowner and giant parking operator Joe’s Auto Parks as a mixed-use project consisting of not only parking but with office and retail components as well according to a development executive I spoke to at the company.