After some initial groundbreaking work that began about a year ago that created a large sunken pit to prepare for the project’s foundation and underground parking, the massive Oceanwide Plaza project (formerly known as Fig Central) has remained seemingly dormant without any other construction activity on this sprawling 4.6 acre site located directly across the Staples Center. Many have wondered what the heck is going on with Chinese developer Oceanwide’s $1 billion project, which is another huge game changing development for red hot South Park.
No surprise here! The Arts District in Downtown LA continues to attract the most trendsetting brands and stores becoming downtown’s answer to red hot Abbot Kinney. That’s why I am happy to announce that two more exciting stores will be opening here this year confirmed to be in the northern section of the sprawling Arts District (aka “NoArDi”): watchmaker Shinola and Salt & Straw ice cream.
The chances of getting a peaceful ride aboard Metro buses and trains are similar to that of winning the lottery. And on that rare occasion that you do get that enjoyable experience riding in a quiet car, do savor it as there’s bound to be someone at the next stop who’ll decide to ruin the ride for everyone else.
One of the hottest districts in Downtown LA just got another little “urban boost” today. Within all the frenetic construction activity happening throughout South Park, the immediate neighborhood surrounding 11th and Hope has organically developed to become the center of the growing residential community, and today marked another great milestone with the opening of a brand new parklet installed by the South Park BID.
Move over In-N-Out! If LA’s favorite homegrown burger chain absolutely refuses to open an urban store in Downtown LA (you can read more about why In-N-Out has decided not to open here), then we’ll be glad to embrace the East Coast counterpart — Shake Shack! Yes, those yummy (but kinda-pricey-compared-to-In-N-Out) burgers from New York City will be making their way to the southwest corner of 8th and Hill replacing the 801 Hill nightclub that currently operates in the space.
Well this is certainly welcome news! After just returning home to LA a few days ago after spending over three weeks of truly urban bliss in walkable, transit-oriented Taipei, Taiwan (seriously one of Asia’s most underrated cities), I am so glad to learn that Taiwanese pastry chain, 85°C Bakery Cafe, has signed a lease to take over the shuttered Famima store at the southwest corner of Wilshire and Hope in the heart of the Financial District.
For those who may not know, I have been involved with Downtown LA development for more than a decade in various capacities from economic development to real estate to the active promotion of its urban revitalization. Since 2004, what started out as a simple — and some would say at that time naive dream that Downtown LA could ever become a great urban center — has turned into my career of passion as an active participant in its ever evolving landscape, both economically and socially. Downtown LA is becoming the vibrant and walkable urban center I had always dreamed of.
One of the largest mixed-use projects under construction on the West Coast — the $1 billion Metropolis project anchoring the western edge of Downtown LA in South Park — reached a major milestone on Tuesday, December 8. Chinese developer Greenland USA topped off their first tower with a ceremony marking another big step forward as the massive 6.3 acre site begins to truly take shape with all four towers now rising simultaneously. The final steel beam (that was signed by a whopping group of 500 construction workers, Greenland execs, Councilman Jose Huizar, and others that have worked on the project) was laid across the roof of the 38-story residential tower.
A historic building on 7th Street located in the very heart of the Jewelry District has just been sold to New York investor, Atlas Capital, for $14.7 million. Escrow closed on the three-story, 36,000 square foot structure — currently named the “International Jewelry Mart” — just before Thanksgiving, paving the way for new possibilities for another sadly dilapidated building in Downtown LA to be restored and repositioned as something more than just a shabby discount jewelry center. ALTC Realty represented the sellers and Industry Partners represented the buyers in the deal.
Less than a month after the highly anticipated Whole Foods Market opened at 8th and Grand, another new development has started construction across the street on a surface parking lot keeping the momentum going here on the northern edge of South Park. Sandwiched between Carmel’s new residential tower (that’s also under construction) and the 49-unit South Park Lofts, a new parking structure broke ground in mid November that will include a new CVS drugstore on the ground floor adding another practical business to a growing residential neighborhood in South Park.
After several years of construction, Le Petit Paris made its debut at the base of the beautiful El Dorado Lofts building on Spring Street in September. The restaurant space is impressive both in terms of its sheer size and architectural details. Formerly the lobby of the once grand El Dorado hotel prior to residential conversion, the space been beautifully transformed into an expansive dining room. At the rear of the main dining area, the original lobby staircase serves as both a focal point of the space and an access point to a bar area and additional intimate seating nooks located on the mezzanine floor. Striking new crystal chandeliers line the ceiling, nicely complementing the original art deco details visible throughout the space.
There’s no question that Downtown Los Angeles is undergoing a massive revival right now. Dozens of cranes dot the skyline, streets are often closed for utility relocation and the constant drone of construction echoes between skyscrapers. It’s not uncommon to walk past through some historic buildings and suddenly find yourself at the feet of a brand new apartment tower, complete with its glass balconies, indoor fitness center, and even a Philz coffee shop. While the revitalization is definitely a boon for Downtown Los Angeles, some more established neighborhoods within downtown like Little Tokyo have begun to worry as familiar cityscapes transform at a rate never seen before.
It’s impossible to believe but after years and years of beyond-frustrating (and mysterious) extended delays that have lasted for more than a decade, the long-vacant Trinity Auditorium and Hotel Clark — two historic gems owned by NY-based Chetrit Group — are finally about to open early next year as two new boutique hotels under the Fën Hotels brand from South America. This time it looks like it’s for real, for real. Argentina-based Fën Hotels (with a NYC headquarters here in the USA) will open both of their hotel brands here in Downtown LA: the Dazzler and Esplendor. With only a handful of locations in the US (one in Brooklyn and two in Florida), Downtown LA will debut as Fën Hotels’ first locations on the West Coast.
By now many of us know that Apple has been looking to open a store in Downtown LA, which would obviously be a huge game changer on the retail side of downtown development. But the question on everyone’s mind has been where? Well, two locations have popped up over the past year as possible considerations: The Bloc in the Financial District and the Broadway Trade Center in the Historic Core. The latter being the more likely case. With that being said, now according to some new exciting “inside info” I’ve come across, there’s an even more amazing location that Apple is apparently looking at taking over: the historic Tower Theatre at 8th and Broadway.
Step inside the new Whole Foods Market in Downtown LA and you might just have to pinch yourself. Can it be true that the coveted market chain from Austin known for their fresh organic foods has finally opened here in LA’s urban core? A place once completely abandoned, left for dead, and now on the verge of a complete comeback like no one could have imagined. Yes, it’s true and it’s definitely not just a really good dream. In fact, some might say the opening of Whole Foods means Downtown LA has truly arrived — for good.