For those of us keeping track of Downtown LA’s urban revitalization progress, the new Wilshire Grand tower under construction has been one of the proudest and most exciting projects for Angelenos who dream of DTLA becoming the region’s crown jewel once again. What will become the West Coast’s new tallest skyscraper designed by LA-based AC Martin has been rising steadily since it broke the record for the world’s largest continuous concrete pour in early 2014. Now after two years of climbing higher and higher into the sky, the tower is beginning to reach its aspired height of 1,100 feet tall, which will dramatically enhance the growing DTLA skyline.
What was supposed to open last November, and even with all the delays plaguing The Bloc (with some potentially serious financial consequences coming up in April with an updated statement regarding this from The Bloc see below), there are definitely also some silver linings that we can all still be excited about. One of those bright spots is the amazing makeover happening inside the Macy’s department store (although technically separate from The Bloc’s own $180 million makeover project). It seemed a bit far-fetched at the time, but checking out the improvements made inside, it really is starting to live up to the expectations of becoming a new bona fide flagship store for Los Angeles.
Well this is certainly welcome news! After just returning home to LA a few days ago after spending over three weeks of truly urban bliss in walkable, transit-oriented Taipei, Taiwan (seriously one of Asia’s most underrated cities), I am so glad to learn that Taiwanese pastry chain, 85°C Bakery Cafe, has signed a lease to take over the shuttered Famima store at the southwest corner of Wilshire and Hope in the heart of the Financial District.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Watch the 1-minute video of #jaydancingLA in the streets of Downtown LA
This past Saturday afternoon, Angelenos were dancing in the streets of Downtown LA for a worthy pedestrian cause. An idea that LA resident Luke Klipp came up with, #jaydancingLA was a way for Angelenos fed up with the LAPD’s crack down on jaywalking to express their civil disobedience in a fun, artistic, and of course, legal way. Joined by Los Angeles Walks founder Deborah Murphy with upbeat music pumping on portable speakers, jaydancers disco-ed and grooved their way through the crosswalks of 7th and Hope in the middle of the Financial District attracting attention from not only pedestrians, but ironically, drivers themselves.
Several months behind schedule, the roof is finally coming off at The Bloc in Downtown LA. What was scheduled to happen sometime in late February, the expansive atrium roof made of metal and glass that covered the front entrance to the former Macy’s Plaza started dismantling work in late May. However, it wasn’t until early last week that construction workers really started to tear off the roof piece by piece exposing a skeletal frame structure that now reveals the sky above. Standing next to the front entrance, even with all the messy construction going on, one can really get an exciting glimpse into what this place will be like once it completes its transformation into an outdoor shopping center filled with urban life and activity.
DTLA Rising has just learned that Karl Strauss Brewing Co — one of the original microbreweries credited for putting San Diego on the map in the craft brewing industry — has just signed a long term lease to open a brewery restaurant here in Downtown LA’s Financial District. The handcrafted beer chain with currently 8 locations all in Southern California (mostly in San Diego obviously) will be taking over a cavernous
9,000 13,500 square foot vacant space at the 600 Wilshire office tower (basically, where Wilshire and Grand intersect). Formerly a Bank of America branch, then a potential Ruth’s Chris steakhouse that never went through, the amazing space with ultra-high ceilings and lots of huge windows wrapping around will provide an incredible space for Karl Strauss to work with.
CoCo Fresh brought those addictive chewy boba drinks to South Park last month opening mid-April at 11th and Hope, which has started to catch on within the neighborhood as many residents and workers nearby are beginning to discover the new boba shop (some are probably trying boba for the first time!). Now the popular Taiwanese drink, which includes teas, juices and smoothies, will be opening another store soon in a more central downtown location right across from Pershing Square.
N’ice Cream, a growing local indie chain with locations mainly on the Westside, has signed on at The Bloc in Downtown LA. Already in other hot LA destinations like Santa Monica Place and Abbot Kinney in Venice, N’ice Cream will be introducing their brand new soft serve concept with freshly-made organic gelato and sorbet topped off with their hand-crafted toppings. The new dessert eatery will take over a 700 square foot location on the lower level adjacent to other exciting eateries and shops coming to the shopping center.