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.
Close to a year since One Santa Fe started leasing its 438 apartment units situated on the eastern edge of the booming Arts District, the Michael Maltzan-designed mixed-use complex is now 90% leased according to development partner Canyon Partners Real Estate LLC. The rapid pace of filling up over 390 units in less than 12 months shows the demand to live downtown remains strong. At a quarter-mile long, the One Santa Fe complex has dramatically transformed this part of the Arts District into a destination when it was once just a desolate stretch of pretty much — nothing. Now, new sidewalks and trees along with new retail stores create a much more walkable environment that benefits the long-term goal to make all of Downtown LA a pedestrian-friendly urban center.
It’s always good to see another dead zone parking lot replaced by a high quality development in Downtown LA helping to activate our growing urban center. Over at 9th and Hill on the southern edge of the Historic Core, a new exciting mixed-use tower is slated to rise on a parking lot on the northeast corner of the intersection adjacent to the highly anticipated Broadway Trade Center redevelopment project.
Coffee lovers rejoice! The wait is finally over. San Francisco’s uber popular Philz Coffee soft opened earlier today in Downtown LA at 8th and Hope with a long snaking line that wrapped all the way around the corner and down the block along Hope Street. Excited downtown residents and office workers packed the coffee shop eager to try the Bay Area chain’s highly reputable coffee and pastries known for their iced mint mojito topped with actual mint leaves.
Back during the “early days” of Downtown LA’s urban revitalization, Daily Grill was one of the first new restaurants to open in 2005 on the bottom of the Pegasus Apartments taking a chance on the still very untested downtown market at the time. God bless them for that! Now a decade later, Downtown LA has blossomed into an exciting growing urban center and Daily Grill is evolving right along side. In late March, the restaurant closed down for a complete change in concept to Daily Grill’s younger gastropub identity called Public School 213 (the area code changes based on its location).
Seriously, we’ve been waiting forever for this historic gem to reopen ever since it was closed for rehab back in March 2011, which was almost 4.5 years ago! Since then, the new owner of Clifton’s Cafeteria, Andrew Meieran, has been hard at work restoring the venerated LA institution — like bringing back the beautiful neon lights — that’s been around since 1931 when it first started out as Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria named for the famous Brookdale Lodge near Santa Cruz. Now, it’s finally, finally really happening as a new “Clifton’s job fair” ad went up on Craigslist earlier today that will take place next Monday to hire new employees.
One of the biggest complaints from residents who live in Downtown LA, including myself, has been the lack of options when it comes to good casual affordable eateries that you would find, and take for granted, in established full-service communities like Pasadena or Glendale. Not everything should be a fancy multi-million dollar restaurant with a celebrity chef helming the kitchen if our goal is to make downtown an actual livable place for residents instead of just for visitors seeking novelty. That’s why I’m happy to report that popular bakery chain Panera Bread (casual, good, and affordable) is coming to Downtown LA.
Construction has continued to hum along at The Bloc ever since the atrium roof was removed last month exposing the future now-outdoor courtyard that will become the new retail epicenter in Downtown LA’s growing shopping district when it opens later this year. While The Bloc is being made over, there is also more good news that the very, very sad Macy’s has finally begun work on their own remodeling project (that’s technically separate from The Bloc’s makeover) that will apparently upgrade it to a “flagship store” for Los Angeles according to multiple sources who are familiar with the downtown store.
Another corner in the Historic Core gets a solid new business helping to push the momentum forward. A new Floyd’s 99 Barbershop opened exactly two weeks ago at 7th and Spring on the ground floor of the historic Bartlett Building taking over the corner retail space where Andrew Meieran’s short-lived vintage collectibles shop Kinetescape used to be.
The pie-in-the-sky vision of surrounding Pershing Square with new retail and restaurants like bustling Union Square in San Francisco is finally beginning to take some preliminary shape. In early May, a new upscale retailer called Please Do Not Enter added to a growing mix of new businesses opening across from Pershing Square, which is probably one of the most important public spaces left in America that hasn’t been revitalized yet.
What an auspicious time for Downtown LA to add another gay bar now totaling three including the New Jalisco. Just about a month after Downtown LA’s newest gay bar, Precinct, opened at 4th and Broadway as well as the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on same-sex marriage legalized across the country, Redline soft opened its doors earlier than expected on Tuesday evening this week at the intersection of 6th and Los Angeles. They were initially planning to open in early August.
The retail momentum continues on Broadway with the opening of Shiekh Shoes last Friday, July 10 and first reported their downtown arrival by DTLA Rising back in November 2014. Located near the very up-and-coming intersection of 8th and Broadway where Urban Outfitters, Gap Factory Store, and the Broadway Trade Center project are helping to redefine the block, Shiekh adds a nice sneaker and athletic attire option to a growing and diverse shopping district in the making.
Great news today regarding Downtown LA’s (and the west coast’s for that matter) still tallest skyscraper, the 1,018-foot tall, 72-story Library Tower (aka US Bank Tower). Per the LA Times, more details have emerged about the observation deck that we already knew was coming and other exciting improvement upgrades geared for the landmark high-rise that has defined the downtown skyline since it was completed in 1989.
With so many historic structures along Broadway still abandoned and/or underutilized, it will still be awhile before Broadway is brought up to speed. So that’s why it’s so important to get as many of these structures restored and activated as fast as possible to continue to push the downtown momentum forward. And that’s why I’m so glad to report that another new adaptive reuse project called the Parmelee Lofts is proceeding forward near 7th and Broadway that will add new rental housing and retail to the historic thoroughfare, helping to bridge the prosperity development gap between southern and northern Broadway (basically between the Ace Hotel and Grand Central Market).
One of the main public universities in Los Angeles — Cal State LA with 24,000 students located about 4 miles east of Downtown LA — will be opening a new downtown campus in January 2016 according to the university’s Director of Communications Robert Lopez. First reported on the LABJ, the new campus will open at 801 S Grand Ave, a modern 22-story office tower (with half of it converted to residential back in 2006) surrounded by amazing development activity including the 700-unit luxury apartment project Eighth & Grand anchored by Whole Foods across the street.