What a great way to start off the new year in DTLA! Some really exciting news coming from the 9th and Broadway area, which has become one of Downtown LA’s main hubs for our much-needed growing retail scene. One of the most popular furniture stores in North America, West Elm, has finally signed a lease to occupy a ground floor commercial space right across the street from the posh Ace Hotel. As someone who has furnished most of his apartment with items from West Elm, I can say from personal experience that I am super excited that a new store will open within Downtown LA!
Last week, we found out that an exciting new Vans flagship store is planning to open in spring 2018 at 8th and Broadway next to the historic Tower Theatre. Now, I’m so excited to learn that another two new stores have signed on to open near 9th and Broadway just about a block south from the future Vans store. Theory and A.L.C., both upscale fashion brands, will be coming to Downtown LA.
Broadway still has a long way to go before it reaches its full potential as the most amazing street in all of Los Angeles. What makes Broadway inherently special is the unique history and architecture that define the street. However, in order to fully appreciate its grandeur, Angelenos must be able to interact with the street in various practical ways including shopping, dining, and entertainment. That’s why I’m always excited when I learn of a new store that will draw more people to the street, creating relevancy that’s been missing for decades. The dream of fully activating Broadway will be getting another step closer as everyone’s favorite Vans store is planning to open here near 8th and Broadway.
The intersection of 9th/Broadway continues to push forward as one of the main epicenters of new retailers making a comeback in Downtown LA. This past Saturday, the high-end fashion French label A.P.C. (standing for “Atelier de Production et de Création”) finally opened its doors for business here helping to boost the intersection’s critical mass as it begins to take more concrete shape as a bona fide shopping destination. DTLA Rising first announced the rumors that A.P.C. was coming to Downtown LA a year and a half ago back in December of 2013. Replacing what used to be a nondescript art gallery (called Vista Art Galleria), the once forgettable space facing 9th Street has been transformed into a chic and modern fashion showroom and a head turner with a strong street presence.
Back in October 2014, Vancouver-based Holland Partner Group purchased a 39,000 square foot parking lot for $12.5 million on the northwest corner of 8th and Spring located on the cusp of the Historic Core and Fashion District. Less than a year later, we’re now getting some exciting details being revealed about a new ground-up tower that will rise here within this burgeoning urban neighborhood.
As we wait eagerly for high-end French label A.P.C. to open (hopefully) later this month near 9th and Broadway, we have yet another fashion forward brand from Australia that will be making this hot intersection into their new US flagship debut that is sure to make a lot of women very happy. First reported on Apparel News, the fast-fashion Aussie brand BNKR (pronounced “bunker”) will be opening their very first brick and mortar store outside of their only other store in Adelaide, Australia here in Downtown LA at the historic 1916 Blackstone building, which was a former department store converted to 82 lofts in 2010.
One of the most beautiful coffee spaces to open in Downtown LA, Santa Cruz-based Verve Coffee Roasters has debuted their first Los Angeles location in the up-and-coming Fashion District with a soft opening earlier today. The 1,600 square foot cafe faces Spring Street with an expansive glass entrance set back within the historic Primrose Design Building allowing for a spectacular outdoor patio seating area that’s intimately tucked away and covered from wall-to-wall-to-ceiling with living green vegetation.
Fashionistas rejoice! A new upscale women’s boutique called AltHouse just opened a couple of months ago at 8th and Main, pushing the new downtown development momentum east into the Fashion District. The new shop, located next door to Skingraft’s also new flagship store, adds to an exciting shopping district in the making within the Historic Core, which includes other nearby stores like Nudie Jeans, Urban Outfitters, Acne Studios, and APC’s new downtown location opening this spring. AltHouse offers a unique experience in both the brands it carries and the beautiful space it occupies.
Wow that was fast. It only took less than 4 months to go from announcement to opening. The upscale Brazilian BBQ chain Fogo de Chao soft opened last Sunday, Dec 28 just before New Year’s Eve. Located at 8th and Figueroa in the Financial District, construction started on the massive 8,120 square foot restaurant space replacing Roy’s, which shuttered this past summer after almost a decade run. For meat lovers, this place is heaven. Fogo is known for their high quality meats including filet mignon and lamb chops among many other yummy cuts.
For the longest time, it seemed like Spring Street was having all the coffee fun with so many cafes opening up over the last few years from indie sweet spots like Spring for Coffee and Tierra Mia to corporate Starbucks. Now, add another one to the list of growing coffee shops in the Historic Core, this time a couple blocks over near 6th/Los Angeles St. Elabrew Coffee just opened earlier this month and is already the new neighborhood go-to cafe for local residents looking for something new to try. Located directly across the street from Hero Shop (where you get the “perfect banh mi“), this is Elabrew’s second and funkier location with the original one still in Santa Monica near the future Bergamot Expo Line station.
Relocating to a higher profile location, Skingraft opened its new beautiful flagship store last week at the corner of 8th and Spring on the edge of the Fashion District. The LA-based designer, Jonny Cota, had opened his first store in the Banco Popular building near 4th and Main (up the street) in 2006, and since then, has grown in stature within the fashion world showing for the second time at New York Fashion Week. The “LA leather laden brand” as Racked LA calls it has become increasingly popular with the celeb set including Rihanna and A$AP Rocky.
With the exception of the Medallion apartments at 4th/Main, there have been no ground-up market rate housing developments built in the Historic Core in Downtown LA. Pretty much all new lofts and condos in the Historic Core that have come on the market over the last decade have been conversion projects taking advantage of the adaptive reuse ordinance. All that’s about to change, however, as numerous high-rise projects have been proposed in the Historic Core that will be the next evolution of Downtown LA’s urban revitalization, filling in all those anti-pedestrian surface parking lots. We won’t have to wait too long for some action because the exciting new chapter for the Historic Core begins now with Topaz, a new mixed-user, that broke ground last Friday near 6th/Main.
The Historic Core in Downtown LA is where it all started after the adaptive-reuse ordinance was passed in 1999. Developer Tom Gilmore first took advantage of the new ordinance and converted three vacant and dilapidated historic buildings into 230 live/work lofts in what is now known as the Old Bank District at 4th and Main. It’s definitely come a long way since 1999. Over the last 15 years, the Historic Core — with its massive stock of, what else, historic buildings — has become a mixed-use residential hub with increasing numbers of restaurants, bars, and yes, even retail. Now that a good chunk of historic structures has been converted to mostly housing, it’s only logical for the next step in Downtown LA’s evolution toward urban maturity to begin building new ground-up projects as well that will help fill in those surface parking lots that have disrupted the urban fabric with its negative, anti-walking sprawling effects. Now, the exciting continuation of the Historic Core’s revitalization includes three new proposed high-rises set to break ground in the next year: the 38-story SB Omega, the 15-story Broadway Lofts, and the 33-story Hill Tower Lofts.
One of LA’s hottest ascending designers, Jonny Cota, is relocating his flagship store, Skingraft, from its current location at the Banco Popular building in the Old Bank District to 8th/Spring on the western edge of the Fashion District. The 2,600 square foot space couldn’t be more perfect for Skingraft, and when it opens, will contribute to this growing neighborhood not far from all the action happening at 9th/Broadway. Located on the ground floor of the Great Republic Lofts across from Terroni, the new space—long and horizontal—takes up almost the entire block along 8th Street and is lined with big beautiful windows, which will be used by the store to showcase their designs.
People think of Downtown LA as a place for either professionals who work in suits in big skyscrapers or the creative set living in cool hip lofts above funky bars perhaps on Spring Street or in the Arts District. Singles and couples attracted to urban living, the usual suspects you know? But something you don’t expect to see downtown is a growing number of parents with kids living in those cool hip lofts. Many parents have decided to continue living in the urban center even though it seems most downtown residents who decide to have children usually end up moving out to the suburbs. Seeing more and more parents pushing their strollers down the sidewalks of Downtown LA says a lot about the changing demographics and what it means for the future. And now that group of urban-loving parents reluctant to move to suburbia are taking matters into their own hands by creating services and amenities geared for families. A perfect example is the amazing new K-2nd Metro Charter School in South Park that was started by a dedicated group of downtown parents who wanted a high quality education for their downtown-based children. And now that’s why I’m so excited to see a new children’s retail store called, “Around the Globe Kid’s Center,” opening on Broadway just south of Olympic Blvd.