Category Archives: architecture

Eye-Catching New Murals at The Bloc Spruce Up 8th Street in Downtown LA

Eye catching murals at The Bloc were completed last month to improve the pedestrian experience along 8th Street

Eye catching murals at The Bloc were completed last month to improve the pedestrian experience along 8th Street

I really gotta hand it to The Ratkovich Company. After they purchased Macy’s Plaza in May 2013 from Jamison, it’s been nothing but positive changes that have happened under their new ownership as the fortress-looking shopping center built in 1972 (now renamed The Bloc) is in the midst of being completely remodeled from head-to-toe. Not only is the new tenant mix super exciting (i.e., SF’s Wingtip men’s store, Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, etc.), but Ratkovich is doing everything they can to make the center approachable and pedestrian friendly, including the 8th Street side of the property located “in the back” of the complex. Because of the parking entrances and loading docks that must remain, it was tougher to figure out how to engage pedestrians on 8th Street. Ratkovich decided to implement permanent artistic murals on the large blank walls that line the south side of the property.

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Brigham Yen on FOX 11: Broadway Trade Center Reviving; Arts District “Exploding”; Farmers Field in Downtown LA?

About a week ago, I was invited by FOX 11 to come on their noon time talk show segment to give an update on some of the most exciting developments happening in Downtown LA. It’s always super fun for me to be able to share with people what’s going on with DTLA — my favorite subject of course!

Please check out the video above and here are the topics we covered:

  • 1.1 million S.F. Broadway Trade Center getting restored
  • More retailers opening up in downtown
  • Arts District exploding with development, incl. Coca Cola Building
  • Rite Aid pharmacy controversy at 5th/Broadway
  • Farmers Field viewed as a benefit for downtown
  • More green space, Pershing Square next big thing

Thank you again so much to FOX 11 News!

Holiday Lights Aglow: It’s Christmas Time in the City in Downtown LA

The lighted Christmas tree stands prominently over the Jonathan Club in Downtown LA (Photo: Hunter Kerhart)

The lighted Christmas tree stands prominently over the Jonathan Club in Downtown LA (Photo: Hunter Kerhart)

For someone who thrives being in the middle of the city, walking, and taking in the sights and sounds of a bustling urban center, there’s nothing quite like all that added on top of the holidays. Some people dread the holidays, but I love it. To me, I enjoy seeing all the buildings come alive by getting decked out in colorful lights and ornamentation. I love seeing Christmas trees spring up around office lobbies and outdoor spaces. Over the past several years, I’ve been noticing that Downtown LA is becoming more and more festive as our resident population continues to grow and a renewed sense of pride fills our city once again. Walk down almost any street, look up, and you’ll see Christmas trees abound glowing warmly inside living rooms or lights strung across balcony railings.

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Tiny Retail Shops Fill Historic Tower Theatre in Downtown LA

Don't underestimate these tiny stores opening at the Tower Theatre as they make a big impact on this stretch of 8th Street

Don’t underestimate these tiny stores opening at the Tower Theatre as they make a big impact on this stretch of 8th Street

We all love our beautiful historic movie palaces along Broadway (there are a dozen that line the street), and the Tower Theatre at 8th and Broadway is no exception. The small but opulent historic venue opened in 1927 and was designed by prolific American architect S. Charles Lee (who also designed the grand Los Angeles Theatre up the street). At only 150 feet long x 50 feet wide, the Tower Theatre could seat up to only 906 at its heyday. The owner of the Tower, the Delijani family, closed the theater in late 2012 with plans to convert it to a concert venue. However, to most people who walk by daily, it just looks like a sad abandoned theater — albeit a gorgeous one. But exciting signs of change (and life) popped up recently in the form of tiny retail shops along the 8th Street side of the Tower Theatre.

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Downtown LA’s Fig Central Prepares for Groundbreaking; Cavalli Club Signing On

As construction is set to begin on the massive Fig Central project, a new tip has revealed the upscale Cavalli Club is slated to open inside the still-unannounced hotel

As construction is set to begin on the massive Fig Central project, a new tip has revealed the upscale Cavalli Club is slated to open inside the still-unannounced hotel

One of the most important plots of empty land centrally located in Downtown LA’s development landscape is the huge-ass parking lot across from Staples Center in South Park. The 4.6-acre site was purchased about a year ago by Beijing-based Oceanwide from Moinian Group for $200 million, according to the LA Times. That’s an astonishing $43 million per acre. What is set to rise here will not only fill in a huge gaping hole in South Park’s urban landscape, but will also be the next biggest thing in Downtown LA’s development pipeline.

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WeWork Leases Almost Entire Half of Downtown LA’s Fine Arts Building

NY-based WeWork will take over roughly half of the entire Fine Arts Building in Downtown LA as their second and largest LA location

NY-based WeWork will take over roughly half of the entire Fine Arts Building in Downtown LA as their second and largest LA location

One of the coolest co-working companies in the country is coming to Downtown LA — in a big way. According to the LA Times, New York-based WeWork has leased six floors of office space in one of the most beautiful historic gems in Los Angeles: the Fine Arts Building. The shared-office company known for catering to “budding entrepreneurs,” opened their first location in Manhattan in 2010 and proudly claims to be the “world’s first physical social network.” WeWork is strategically locating in tech hubs across the country like San Francisco, Boston, and Seattle. Here in LA — also a tech hub — this will be their second location with another one in Hollywood that opened in 2012.

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New Grand Park Playground Brings More Families to Downtown LA

The new $1 million Grand Park Playground is now open at Grand Park across from LA City Hall

The new $1 million Grand Park Playground is now open at Grand Park across from LA City Hall

Thanksgiving is all about spending quality time with your family, so I’m thinking what better news to highlight today than the new Grand Park Playground that just opened this past weekend in Downtown LA’s Civic Center. The new colorful playground is located across City Hall within the most eastern section of Grand Park. At only 3,700 square feet, it’s impact on the downtown community will be much bigger than its actual size. Like honey bees to a flower, playgrounds attract families with children. And this past Saturday, you could say a gazillion kids waited eagerly to be the first ones to jump, climb, and slide their way into the new playground.

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New Upgraded Downtown LA Ralphs Gets Fancy New Wine Bar and Murray’s Cheese Shop

Ralphs on 9th Street has just completed an exciting $2.5 million remodeling project after being open for seven years in Downtown LA

Ralphs on 9th Street has just completed an exciting $2.5 million remodeling project after being open for seven years in Downtown LA

Ralphs Fresh Fare opened in Downtown LA as part of the Market Lofts condos in July 2007 and played a major critical role in allowing the downtown revitalization to continue moving forward. The small, but growing population at the time could finally buy groceries (a simple but important necessity) without having to leave their own downtown community. In a nutshell, Ralphs made Downtown LA much more livable and allowed the residential community to grow into what it is today, attracting more businesses to open. Now more than seven years after opening, the downtown Ralphs has gone through a beautiful $2.5 million remodeling upgrade that will keep it up-to-date with the rapidly evolving Downtown LA landscape that’s getting ever more crowded. The competition is heating up as more markets have opened downtown since Ralphs (Smart & Final Extra, Urban Radish), with more coming in the future (Whole Foods, Grow Marketlikely Trader Joe’s), and some oldies-but-goodies being rediscovered again (Woori Market).

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New Rendering: Fogo de Chão Opening Early 2015 in Downtown LA

Meat lovers rejoice as Fogo de Chão, with their AYCE Brazilian BBQ, plans to open before spring 2015 at 8th/Figueroa in Downtown LA (Photo: Steven Langford Architects)

Meat lovers rejoice as Fogo de Chão, with their AYCE Brazilian BBQ, plans to open before spring 2015 at 8th/Figueroa in Downtown LA (Photo: Steven Langford Architects)

Meat lovers are sure to rejoice as we are only several months away from the exciting opening of Fogo de Chão at 8th and Figueroa. We first announced they would be replacing Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion back in early Sept. Managed by contractor Shawmut, construction has been chugging along nicely over the last couple of months, converting the massive 8,120 square foot space into the next AYCE Brazilian BBQ hot spot in Downtown LA.

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Trader Joe’s Eyeing Location in Downtown LA’s Shrinking Jewelry District

According to multiple credible sources, Trader Joe's is currently interested in the 7th/Olive "LA Jewelry Mart" building

According to multiple credible sources, Trader Joe’s is currently interested in the 7th/Olive “LA Jewelry Mart” building

Like my favorite 90’s kid show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, the hunt for the elusive Trader Joe’s continues in Downtown LA. We were oh so close, but no cigar. Unfortunately, the other deal fell through at The Bloc where it was originally “supposed to” go. Apparently, the location of the proposed market in the back of the shopping center — with its slanted grade change — didn’t jibe with our wonderful purveyors of Two-Buck Chucks. But wait! With the fast-approaching arrival of Whole Foods just down the street, it looks like Trader Joe’s may not want to end up too far away after all — hopefully it sticks this time. According to multiple credible sources, Trader Joe’s is currently eyeing and in early negotiations with a strategically located historic structure at the edge of the moribund Jewelry District.

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Renderings Revealed for Redevelopment of Coca-Cola Building in Downtown LA Arts District

Fourth & Traction, aka the former Coca-Cola factory, is slated to become a creative office and retail hub with this rendering providing an idea what it'll look like (Photo: HLW International)

Fourth & Traction, aka the former Coca-Cola factory, is slated to become a creative office and retail hub with this rendering showing an activated corner (Photo: HLW International)

New owners of the former Coca-Cola factory building in the Arts District have just released some very exciting renderings of the conversion project they plan to implement for the historic production facility built a century ago. The owners — a joint venture between LA-based GPI Companies and NY-based Atlas Capital — plan to invest a substantial amount of funds (in the multi-millions) to redevelop the property into a creative office and retail hub that will restore and highlight the building’s amazing vintage character — including the beautiful red brick that makes up most of the facade.

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Downtown LA’s One Santa Fe Snags Three More Indie Goodies: Wittmore, Voyager, and BOL

The Yards at One Santa Fe in the Arts District is gaining a huge and impressive mix of indie retailers including: Wittmore, Voyager Shop, and BOL (Photo: One Santa Fe)

The Yards at One Santa Fe in the Arts District is gaining a huge and impressive mix of indie retailers including: Wittmore, Voyager Shop, and BOL (Photo: One Santa Fe)

We last checked in with One Santa Fe about 6 months ago when it was still a big construction site and it’s so exciting to see something this huge and game-changing coming to fruition. Designed by renowned architect Michael Maltzan, the massive 438-unit Arts District project (a quarter of a mile long) is already filling up with new residents and signing new leases with unique and exciting shops and eateries. Dubbed “The Yards at One Santa Fe” (a reference to Metro’s train maintenance yard next door), the retail center on the ground floor is preparing to launch one of the most exciting indie retail concepts in all of Los Angeles that’ll give cross-town Abbot Kinney a run for its money. Three more new additions have just signed on: LA’s Wittmore, SF’s Voyager Shop, and a new Asian eatery called BOL, all expected to open in the first quarter of 2015.

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Colorful New Murals Sprucing Up The Bloc’s Blank Walls in Downtown LA

A new mural on the backside of The Bloc by SF-based artist Chris Lux began going up near 8th and Hope on Tuesday, Nov 4

A new mural (one of three coming) on the backside of The Bloc by SF-based artist Chris Lux began going up near 8th and Hope on Tuesday, Nov 4

For those following The Bloc makeover project, we’ve seen a lot of new exciting developments that show a very bright future ahead for a once very dreadful place that stifled Downtown LA’s urban revitalization progress. We’ve seen what The Bloc will be like on 7th Street, Flower, and Hope. But very little was known about the 8th Street side of the project — until now. Yesterday, work started on three exciting permanent murals commissioned by The Bloc’s ownership, The Ratkovich Company, that will adorn the bland fortress-like walls, transforming the streetscape into a colorful and artistic urban experience.

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Chef Agostino Sciandri Opening VESPAIO at Luxury Rental Emerson in Downtown LA

Rendering courtesy of the upcoming Vespaio at The Emerson on Bunker Hill (Click to enlarge)

Rendering courtesy of the upcoming Vespaio at The Emerson on Bunker Hill (Click to enlarge)

Bunker Hill is really on the cusp of achieving some great critical mass. Not only is the very much anticipated Broad museum opening in late 2015, but one of downtown’s most luxurious new residential properties, The Emerson, opened earlier this month with its first resident move-ins (take a lovely tour inside via Curbed LA). Developed by Related California, the upscale 19-story rental property located adjacent to The Broad is chock-full of amenities from a penthouse lounge with an outdoor terrace to a state-of-the-art media room and library next to a fully equipped fitness center with steam and yoga rooms. Now Emerson residents will have one more thing to brag about: Renowned Italian Chef Agostino Sciandri will be opening Vespaio on the ground floor of The Emerson.

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Downtown LA’s Library Tower Lit Up with Rainbow Colors

Downtown LA's Library Tower -- tallest skyscraper on the west coast -- was lit up with rainbow colors on Monday night celebrating the advancement of LGBT rights in America (Photo: Sterling Davis)

Downtown LA’s Library Tower — tallest skyscraper on the west coast — was lit up with rainbow colors on Monday night celebrating the advancement of LGBT rights in America (Photo: Sterling Davis)

[Update 10/7/14: Apparently I jumped the gun last night when I looked up and saw the rainbow colors, got excited, and assumed the colors were lit up to celebrate the expansion of LGBT rights (read below) when it was actually meant to signify the Special Olympics are opening offices inside the tower as well as hosting the summer games next year in Los Angeles. It was definitely a major coincidence that these two events fell exactly on the same day. The confusion stemmed from the fact that the international symbol for the LGBT community, recognized around the world, just so happens to be the colors of the rainbow. This brings up an obvious glaring issue that the US Bank Tower needs to inform the public on their website what the colors on top actually mean (like what the ESB does in NYC). Nevertheless, I’d still like to think the rainbow colors represented both significant events: the Special Olympics coming to LA and the advancement for LGBT rights. Win win for all.]  

Tonight, Downtown LA’s Library Tower (aka US Bank Tower) was lit up with rainbow colors celebrating a major milestone in LGBT rights in America. Earlier on Monday, 11 states legalized same-sex marriage as a result of the Supreme Court strategically declining to hear appeals from five states. The beautiful crown at the top of the tower — still the west coast’s tallest skyscraper — lit up brightly with red, green, purple, yellow, and blue that could be seen from miles away.

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