Last November, we found out that a new CVS Pharmacy drug store had signed a lease to take over the entire corner of the historic Van Nuys building at 7th and Spring in the heart of the Historic Core. This can be seen as a good and bad thing for those who live in downtown. Good because it’s always nice to have more options and variety to get your daily residential needs fulfilled. After all, CVS along with other drug store chains like Walgreens and Rite Aid are meant to be neighborhood serving retailers that are convenient and ubiquitous in established urban communities. However, this particular CVS can also be viewed as a bad thing because of its close proximity to Skid Row where homeless individuals are known to frequent these drug stores to purchase prescription drugs and alcohol. In the case of Rite Aid at 5th/Broadway, loitering in front of the store is a big issue along with drug dealers and other unpleasant “it’s-your-fault-for-moving-to-an-urban-downtown” experiences like getting beat up by random thugs!
Category Archives: economic development
Back in February, there were rumors flying around that the Library Tower (aka US Bank Tower) could go part residential and hotel in addition to office. And although the LA Times confirmed today that won’t happen, exciting rumors also from February of the observation deck and upgraded lobby did stick. By this time next year, Library Tower—the tallest skyscraper west of Chicago at 1,018 feet tall—could become one of LA’s most sought after tourist attractions with a new observation deck and restaurant. In fact, the owners of the skyscraper hope to attract 500,000 visitors a year, which could become a nice economic boost to the local businesses and restaurants nearby in the Financial District and Bunker Hill. For me, I think it’s about time Library Tower got an observation deck (25 years later).
A bright, bright future awaits the historic 1924 Commercial Exchange building in Downtown LA that’s been sitting empty for well over two decades. What an interesting history this building has as it was once pretty much split in half and moved to make way for a street widening project in the 1930s. Can you imagine a beautiful and irreplaceable building like this left to basically rot for so long? Well, our worries can now be put to rest. A very prominent New York hotel developer, the Sydell Group, has successfully purchased the historic edifice located at 8th and Olive catercorner to the exciting Whole Foods mixed-use project opening in 2015.
Less than two weeks ago, DTLA Rising broke the very exciting news that AEG had signed a lease taking over the entire Desmond Building in Downtown LA’s rapidly growing South Park district. The beautiful historic structure built in 1916 sat empty and dilapidated, sadly, for many decades even though it sits directly across the street from multiple high-end residential buildings including the South Group condos (Elleven, Luma, Evo) and the Met Lofts. But now the Desmond will be getting the much needed TLC it deserves when AEG — owner of nearby Staples Center and LA Live — relocates their ticketing and live entertainment divisions into the Desmond come next year.
It’s been three months since construction first began on the parking structure that will be attached to the new and exciting 888 S Hope, a brand new 33-story residential tower about to break ground later this year in burgeoning South Park. Being developed by LA-based CIM Group, new renderings from RTKL — the architect firm designing the project — show lots of retail space on the ground floor of both the parking structure and the tower itself. As you can see in the renderings (above and below), ample retail space will face Hope Street and wrap around the tower along 9th Street bordering the upcoming boutique Empire Hotel.
This just in: AEG Worldwide has signed a long-term lease to take over purportedly the entire long-vacant Desmond Building located in Downtown LA’s South Park district at 11th/Hope, just a stone’s throw from the AEG empire of Staples Center, LA Live, and now even the LA Convention Center that they manage. Specific details aren’t known yet as an official press release will be coming out soon, but the building will apparently be the new consolidated headquarters for AEG Worldwide, which is currently located in separate offices in South Park, including inside LA Live itself. A brand new sixth floor will be added to the top of the roof that will bring the total square footage to about 80,000+ square feet. There were also initially plans to add a rooftop bar to the building.
Come Walk with Me: Brigham Yen Shows the LA Register What It’s Like to be a Pedestrian in Downtown LA
Just last week, I gave a staff writer, Bill Johnson, at the Los Angeles Register a 4 hour walking tour of Downtown LA. Yes, we actually walked for those who don’t believe it’s possible in “car-centric” Los Angeles. The walk was not only long but interesting all along the way. I love giving these walking tours because it’s always my goal to surprise those who aren’t familiar with downtown not only all the exciting changes happening but also that it’s completely possible to be a pedestrian in Los Angeles when a city has a centralized urban center that’s filled with things to do and see. Simple concept, yet so many were/are skeptical it could ever happen here in sprawly LA. To read the full tour described by Johnson, please check out the LA Register article by clicking here.
We already know the Arts District is hot on the development radar in Downtown LA. Over in NoArDi (aka North Arts District), several very large projects in the making are transforming the once desolate industrial warehouse district into an active and vibrant residential and artistic community. The massive One Santa Fe project with 438 apartments and a 99-seat community theater along with the MegaToys Lofts with 320 apartments — both under construction — will be adding thousands of new residents in the coming years. And the exciting recent announcement of Hauser Wirth & Schimmel converting an old flour mill on 3rd Street into a 100,000 square foot art center complex — befitting of the district’s namesake — is slated to open in 2016. But NoArDi shouldn’t have all the fun. Now SoArDi (aka South Arts District) will be the next to receive a large mixed-use project near 7th/Alameda just a stone’s throw from fashion juggernaut Alameda Square (headquarters to American Apparel, Splendid/Ella Moss, and Groceries Apparel).
This totally made my day! Great news via Building Los Angeles, a beautiful historic gem in the heart of Downtown LA in what is now known as the Jewelry District is slated for adaptive-reuse conversion. Designed by architect Claud Beelman, the art deco building will be converted to 165 residential units according to plans submitted to the city. In addition, there are plans for two restaurants and a bar lounge. Located at the SW corner of 7th/Hill — arguably one of the most significant intersections for the future of downtown retail growth along the main east-west pedestrian axis of 7th Street — the 13-story historic edifice was once the flagship store for the LA-based Foreman & Clark department store established in 1909, which actually opened its first store at 3rd/Main.
Exciting developments continue to keep the momentum strong in Downtown LA’s South Park district. Marriott’s new dual-brand-under-one-roof 23-story hotel tower — a Courtyard and a Residence Inn — is accepting its first hotel guest reservations starting this June 1. But thank goodness it doesn’t end there as a new $200 million Renaissance Hotel is slated to rise 21 stories directly next door to the Courtyard/Residence Inn.
It’s amazing and so very exciting to see the massive Michael Maltzan-designed One Santa Fe project taking shape on the eastern edge of Downtown LA in the burgeoning Arts District, which is rapidly becoming one of the hottest neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles with new trendy shops like Warby Parker and Blacktop Coffee as well as EightyTwo barcade opening recently down the street. One Santa Fe — sandwiched between SCI-ARC and the Metro rail yard — will be a huge game changer for the Arts District adding an additional 438 apartment units for rent (potentially increasing the downtown population by another 650 residents) and adding lots of new businesses and community amenities (like a 99-seat theater) that will help inject more pedestrian activity into the immediate area, including an exciting new grocery store called GROW that’s planning to open later this year within the One Santa Fe courtyard.
This past Friday, another heavy hitting retailer was added to 9th and Broadway, the rapidly evolving intersection and epicenter of Broadway’s amazing revitalization comeback. The Australian apothecary and beauty skincare line, Aesop, opened at 11 am and joins a growing list of upscale retail shops and other businesses helping to transform this once seedy and desolate area into the next hottest destination in Downtown LA.
This past weekend was the official launch of the Arts District Flea, which is a permanent indoor flea market located at 453 Colyton Street just a short block west from the central gathering hub otherwise known as Urth Caffe. The three-day event started on Friday and attracted hundreds of people throughout the weekend ending on Sunday. The high turn out shows the kind of demand there is for community oriented events like this in a rapidly growing Arts District. Local vendors and artisans from throughout Los Angeles (and many from the Arts District itself) set up stalls in the cavernous 15,000 square foot industrial warehouse space with concrete floors and 14.5 foot high exposed wood-beam ceilings. With a capacity for up to 60 separate vendors (each stall is 8′ x 8′), the Arts District Flea will continue to offer a dynamic and wide range of both new and vintage items for sale.
Walking along Spring Street between 7th and 8th is still sort of a bummer for a pedestrian. It’s one block along an otherwise vibrant Spring St that’s in serious need of help because it’s rudely interrupted by a bunch of ugly surface parking lots and a serious lack of ground floor retail activation. In other words, it’s pretty dead. Even so, some early signs of positive change for this block include eateries like Juice Crafters and Fresh Panini as well as the forthcoming Spring Ivy next to the renovated Corporation Building into creative office. Oh, and we’re crossing our fingers that the new CVS at 7th/Spring won’t turn into another “Ride Aid” (looking at you 5th/Broadway). But what about those pesky parking lots that suck pedestrian life out of city blocks? That’s why I’m super excited to learn that one of the largest parking lots left along Spring St (at 8th adjacent to the 168-unit historic Chapman Lofts) is now being marketed to developers in search of “one of the last remaining development sites in Downtown Los Angeles.”
Since Urban Outfitters and Acne Studios opened on Broadway in late December of last year, a whirlwind of new retailers have setup shop almost overnight nearby 9th and Broadway and the new Ace Hotel. OAK NYC, Tanner Goods, Aesop, and A.P.C. to name a few. But all up and down Broadway is fair game for other retailers including the apparent signing of Burlington Coat Factory at 7th/Broadway. Now, rumors are picking up that other large well-known brands – which once eschewed Downtown LA like the plague — have not only taken notice of all this new retail activity, but are actively looking for suitable spaces in Downtown LA as well. Where? Specifically along retail-conducive streets like Broadway and 7th Street where large redevelopment projects like The Bloc and Wilshire Grand Tower continue to generate buzz. Names like Gap, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Forever 21, and Anthropologie have all come up as brands searching or eyeing Downtown LA. No exact locations are yet confirmed for any of these brands, but the fact is, eventually they will find a home here. Only a matter of time. Also, within the next month or so, both Zara and H&M will be opening their exciting new LA flagship stores at FIGat7th that will further add fuel to the growing retail fire in Downtown LA.