The good news just keeps on coming for 7th Street! Last week, we broke the news that the ever-so-popular Halal Guys, which has become a nationally recognized name starting from its humble beginnings as a street cart in NYC, signed a lease to replace the former Brigade LA clothing store near 7th/Olive. And now this week another exciting eatery development is taking place less than two blocks away also on 7th Street.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a HUGE fan of the original Halal Guys from New York, which started out in 1990 at 53rd and 6th Ave in the heart of Midtown. The first time I tried it back in 2003, I became a fan immediately. Even so, to be frank, I was skeptical that they could translate those delicious platters of chicken and gyro meat with rice to a brick and mortar format and still be able to keep that authentic “street cart” flavor intact. Boy, was I glad I was wrong. After trying multiple Halal Guys in various places (Costa Mesa, Koreatown, and even Las Vegas), I’ve consistently enjoyed it every time. It’s become one of my favorite go-to spots for fast and delicious casual food that always hits the spot. That’s why I’m SUPER excited Halal Guys is planning to open their first DTLA location next year here along 7th Street!
This past Labor Day weekend, something exciting happened in Downtown LA while many were probably out of town or perhaps completely unaware (but should be!). The 73-story, AC Martin-designed Wilshire Grand Tower, located at 7th and Figueroa — one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in Southern California — officially became the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast (taking the title away from another DTLA landmark, the US Bank/Library Tower) when construction workers lifted and secured the final piece of the tower’s soaring signature spire — a first of its kind in all of Los Angeles known for its flat-roofed skyscrapers.
Okay, so this is both exciting and not surprising at the same time. The Office Depot strip mall in the middle of bustling Little Tokyo completed in 2001, also referred to by its lesser known name “The Shops at 2nd and Central,” may be redeveloped into something much more appropriate for its Regional Connector-adjacent location in the not-so-distant future.
Can you believe it’s been exactly two years since 8th and Hope was completed? The 22-story glass tower with 290 rentals developed by Wood Partners replaced an ugly, anti-pedestrian surface parking lot, helping to bridge the urban landscape for pedestrians walking between South Park and the Financial District. The tower’s ground floor retail has filled up over the last two years with three new eateries (Philz Coffee, Hoke Poke, and Jersey Mike’s Subs) that have helped activate the sidewalk with much-needed pedestrian activity, contributing to the growing urban energy that makes Downtown LA so exciting. Well, I’m glad to report there’s one more eatery that will be opening here.
Philz Coffee opened its first Downtown LA location exactly a year ago with huge lines and lots of excitement from avid coffee drinkers. The location at 8th/Hope surrounded by tons of residents and office workers was an instant home run becoming one of the busiest cafes in DTLA. Their down-to-earth service and no-attitude vibe definitely doesn’t hurt on top of having great tasting coffee. Well, now get ready for another Philz Coffee to open downtown, this time on the fringe of the developing Arts District.
As a resident of Downtown LA’s South Park district, it’s been frustrating for me to always have to leave downtown to eat. To me, there’s truly a lack of good and affordable eateries nearby that I can have on my regular go-to list. Most restaurants that have opened downtown in general in the last several years have been trendy and pricey establishments that are fantastic at attracting outsiders to come dine in Downtown LA, but not really geared toward full-time residents like myself. That’s why anytime there’s a new restaurant that opens downtown that’s good and affordable, it gets me all extra excited! If you live or work downtown, especially in South Park and the Financial District, you have to put this on your regular rotation: Eko Eats at 6th and Hope.
Remember when we ran our post last year asking the question: “Can Little Tokyo keep its Japanese flavor in Downtown LA?” As the urban revival continued both within and around Little Tokyo (especially the adjacent red hot Arts District), many worried, including myself, that Little Tokyo’s strong Japanese roots would be chipped away as one of the community’s most significant properties — the historic Brunswig Square at 2nd and Central — was kicking out its Japanese restaurants (i.e., Kokekokko) with plans to replace them with non-Asian concepts. The landlord GreenOak Real Estate Advisors had little regard for the community and basically wanted to turn Little Tokyo into the Arts District. Bad, bad move in my opinion. Well THANK GOODNESS GreenOak sold the property to Jamestown Properties who last year after reading our alarming piece reached out to me with the much appreciated intent to listen to my concerns about keeping Little Tokyo intact.
The painfully slow revitalization of Broadway continues. First reported on CAN, I am happy to report more details that a prominent national chain is finally taking over a dilapidated structure — known by many as the “Blue Jeans” building — located at 749 S Broadway near the up-and-coming 8th and Broadway intersection where the Apple Store rumors still persist. A new retail concept from Foot Locker is slated to open here that will hopefully continue to nudge other retailers to open along Broadway in Downtown LA.
Downtown LA, an urban center still starved of various shopping options and other retail amenities, has been eagerly and anxiously awaiting for the completion of The Bloc. The massive $180 million remodeling project, which sits squarely in the middle of the bustling Financial District, has been delayed for almost a year (it was “supposed to be” done last November). Even so, the project has slowly started to come to life with the recent opening of the interior courtyard (once covered by an ugly atrium) and the beautiful makeovers inside Macy’s and the newly upgraded Sheraton Grand Hotel. In addition, it’s exciting to see that one of the shopping center’s original tenants, LA Fitness, has also relocated its once tired space into a brand new one that reflects the new downtown.
A relative newcomer to the Downtown LA dining scene, Miro is making a big statement in the Financial District. Occupying the highly visible corner of Figueroa and Wilshire, the restaurant has transformed a pleasant, if somewhat unremarkable space into a real showstopper. As the former home of Cucina Rustica and an office for the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) before that, Miro and the building it occupies illustrate the dramatic and ongoing transformation of the Financial District and Downtown LA as a whole. When the Wilshire Grand Tower debuts across the street next year, this intersection will be unrecognizable.
You really can’t have a livable community without having access to good healthcare services. As downtown continues to mature as an established urban center, it is critical that it offers its residents a variety of medical resources since people are bound to get sick and accidents do happen. That’s why I’m so excited that an actual real urgent care has opened here in Downtown LA’s rapidly developing South Park district. Last month, Reliant Urgent Care opened a brand new state-of-the-art facility directly across the street from the new massive $1 billion Metropolis project.
Something new and exciting is coming to LA Live — RETAIL! The mega development by AEG that helped jump start the Downtown LA renaissance over a decade ago has focused almost entirely on restaurants and entertainment venues leaving out the all-important retail stores that also help attract shoppers. In other words, you can “eat,” you can “play,” but unfortunately you can’t “shop” at LA Live. But soon that’s about to change a bit as one of Downtown LA’s first pioneer retailers, Brigade LA, will be opening its brand new flagship store here at LA Live.
It’s here! The much loved Taiwanese bakery 85ºC is officially open in Downtown LA at the corner of Wilshire and Hope in the heart of the Financial District. A soft opening event yesterday attracted hundreds of downtown office workers and residents as they lined up excited to try out the delicious pastries and drinks the bakery is known for (each person was allowed to choose three free items as part of the soft opening event). The line stretched half way down the block along Wilshire Blvd with many I spoke to in line trying 85 Degrees for the first time. Judging by the happy smiles on everyone’s faces, I wouldn’t be surprised if the bakery just gained a whole bunch of new regular customers.
In case you missed it, Downtown LA has a new commander overseeing the Central Division. Captain Howard Leslie, a 29-year police department veteran, joins the Central Division (he started on March 20, 2016) at a challenging time for DTLA, and with almost 60,000 residents (and growing) calling the Central City home, the stakes have never been higher. In the last 12 months, crime has risen across most major categories in downtown along with homelessness. Captain Leslie brings a practical approach to law enforcement by embracing transparency and community-based policing. And as a strong pedestrian advocate, I am elated that he recognizes the growing pedestrian culture here in Downtown LA, which can be seen by his planned focus on educating about safety instead of penalizing with hefty fines.