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.
It’s no secret that Bunker Hill has seen a surge of redevelopment activity recently. The debut of new housing and restaurants including The Emerson Apartments and Vespaio affirm the neighborhood’s continued role in Downtown L.A.’s renaissance, while the grand opening of The Broad Museum has cemented Grand Avenue as one of the California’s most important cultural corridors. (Click here to take a tour of the new museum and its amazing contemporary art collection.)
From once predominately industrial warehouses to its current trajectory as a maturing residential enclave, the fascinating evolution of the Arts District in Downtown LA continues to amaze and excite me. This past weekend, local indie Grow Market soft opened for business inside the massive One Santa Fe mixed-use project adjacent to the popular vegan eatery Cafe Gratitude. The new grocer is only the second location to open for the Manhattan Beach market and signals the increasingly strong demand for more amenities catering to the growing population in the Arts District.
Olympic Blvd in South Park is in desperate need of more businesses. For a downtown in the nation’s second largest city, we sure don’t have much to show for it on one of our most significant commercial stretches where too many blocks still remain devoid of stores and restaurants. It’s sad when a Shell gas station and a Subway sandwich are considered “go-to spots” because there’s pretty much nothing else until you get to LA Live. As a result, residents of South Park really have few options when it comes to food and shopping. Well, things are hopefully about to change for the better as a prominent restaurant/bar from San Francisco has just signed a massive deal at the southeast corner of Olympic and Olive that could help turn the tide the way Bottega Louie helped transform 7th Street.
Fans of Dunkin’ Donuts rejoice! I am happy to report that Downtown LA’s very first DD store is coming to the ground floor of the historic Hotel Olive located on the northeast corner of 8th and Olive on the cusp of the Financial District, Historic Core, and South Park. The new Dunkin’ Donuts will be about 2,000 square feet large and will take over the corner of the building with its store frontage mostly facing Olive Street replacing a couple of shuttered stores including Ramona’s Fashions.
The reopening of Clifton’s Cafeteria at 7th and Broadway may well be Downtown LA’s most highly anticipated restaurant opening for the entire year. After years and years (and millions and millions of dollars) of restoration work and upgrades, Clifton’s Cafeteria finally opened last week on October 1 bringing back one of LA’s most cherished historical establishments. In late 2010, local downtown restaurateur Andrew Meieran (The Edison) took over Clifton’s with a long-term 50-year lease with an option to buy. For the next five and a half years, Meieran painstakingly restored both the interior and exterior of the 5-story building, updating it with incredible detail without losing any of its historical charm and character.
Last week, one of the most anticipated projects in Downtown LA finally opened after almost 4.5 years of construction and delays (click here to see when the Broad first broke ground in 2011). The $140 million Broad contemporary art museum opened its doors to the public on Sept 20th to completely full capacity. Even though the museum will have free admission forever, people still have to register and crowds still have to be controlled to maximize the museum-going experience, so attendees are limited to 400 an hour and a total of 4,000 a day. Demand is so high that tickets have been sold out for pretty much the rest of October and weekend tickets won’t be available until mid-December.
For ages, the ugly dirt lot at First and Broadway across the LA Times building sat as an eyesore and an embarrassment to LA’s disconnected Civic Center becoming a flooded pit after the occasional SoCal heavy rainfall. Definitely shameful for the nation’s second largest city in my book. Then about two years ago in August 2013, the $318 million US Federal Courthouse project finally broke ground and has been actively under construction ever since then filling in this 3.6 acre lot. About a week ago, I took a hard-hat tour of the construction site with some of the main principles involved with the project (including the building’s architect from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and contractors from Clark Construction) to give our readers an inside look at the current state of what’s going on here.
Just last week, DTLA Rising took you on an inside tour of the brand new Level tower — the very posh 303-unit corporate housing project at 9th and Olive with the amazing Vegas-style pool and amenity deck that just opened this past June. Not only do we have another gleaming new 33-story high-rise added to our growing skyline, but some very exciting new businesses are planning to open on the ground floor as well that will help activate this desolate intersection in South Park with pedestrian foot traffic. I am very excited to learn that SoulCycle and Cognoscenti Coffee will be opening here next year.
It’s so gratifying to see Onni’s South Park tower — named Level Furnished Living — finally completed after more than 2.5 years of construction. We’ve watched this thing go from an ugly surface parking lot at the corner of 9th and Olive to a gleaming new 33-story high-rise that now adds another nice dent to our growing skyline. Even more important, it now adds a significant injection of life to a still-desolate section of South Park that desperately yearns for more urban street life activity, which will be coming in the form of new restaurants and stores on Level’s ground floor.
Back in April of this year, DTLA Rising first reported that “another boutique hotel” was coming to 7th Street in Downtown LA’s moribund Jewelry District. The lucky building that will receive this new found investment, which was previously proposed for 165 new adaptive-reuse lofts, is the historic 1929 Foreman & Clark that was purchased in 2012 by a wealthy LA-based Korean doctor named Kyung Ku Cho. A reliable source had informed DTLA Rising that Cho’s group was speaking with New York’s Gansevoort Hotel but that the deal eventually fell through possibly due to internal disagreements.
Almost three years ago, we ran a story that revealed that W Hotel was looking to open a location in Downtown LA, and for the last three years I found myself wondering: “When is W finally going to come downtown?” For someone who is a huge fan of Starwood’s hippest hotel flag, I’m beyond elated for today’s good news that W has been chosen by Shenzhen Hazens to become the new “crown jewel” to anchor their new massive South Park development slated to rise across from LA Live and Staples Center.