I really gotta hand it to The Ratkovich Company. After they purchased Macy’s Plaza in May 2013 from Jamison, it’s been nothing but positive changes that have happened under their new ownership as the fortress-looking shopping center built in 1972 (now renamed The Bloc) is in the midst of being completely remodeled from head-to-toe. Not only is the new tenant mix super exciting (i.e., SF’s Wingtip men’s store, Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, etc.), but Ratkovich is doing everything they can to make the center approachable and pedestrian friendly, including the 8th Street side of the property located “in the back” of the complex. Because of the parking entrances and loading docks that must remain, it was tougher to figure out how to engage pedestrians on 8th Street. Ratkovich decided to implement permanent artistic murals on the large blank walls that line the south side of the property.
Category Archives: pedestrian oriented
We all love our beautiful historic movie palaces along Broadway (there are a dozen that line the street), and the Tower Theatre at 8th and Broadway is no exception. The small but opulent historic venue opened in 1927 and was designed by prolific American architect S. Charles Lee (who also designed the grand Los Angeles Theatre up the street). At only 150 feet long x 50 feet wide, the Tower Theatre could seat up to only 906 at its heyday. The owner of the Tower, the Delijani family, closed the theater in late 2012 with plans to convert it to a concert venue. However, to most people who walk by daily, it just looks like a sad abandoned theater — albeit a gorgeous one. But exciting signs of change (and life) popped up recently in the form of tiny retail shops along the 8th Street side of the Tower Theatre.
For many who shop at Ralphs Fresh Fare in Downtown LA, I’m pretty sure you’ve noticed that some pretty cool aesthetic changes have taken place recently. For those who don’t know, DTLA Rising first reported that Ralphs — the South Park grocery store that opened in July 2007 that helped propel the downtown revitalization forward at the time — wrapped up on a major $2.5 million remodeling job late last month. Old floors were replaced with new ones, more checkout stands were added for speedier service, and new additions like Murray’s cheese shop and a fancy wine bar have given Ralphs a, dare I say, hipper vibe inside. But one thing that excited me the most about their recent upgrade is also the simplest thing Ralphs should be doing whether or not they went through the remodeling job, and that is, keeping those exterior lights turned on outside in front of the store.
New owners of the former Coca-Cola factory building in the Arts District have just released some very exciting renderings of the conversion project they plan to implement for the historic production facility built a century ago. The owners — a joint venture between LA-based GPI Companies and NY-based Atlas Capital — plan to invest a substantial amount of funds (in the multi-millions) to redevelop the property into a creative office and retail hub that will restore and highlight the building’s amazing vintage character — including the beautiful red brick that makes up most of the facade.
For those following The Bloc makeover project, we’ve seen a lot of new exciting developments that show a very bright future ahead for a once very dreadful place that stifled Downtown LA’s urban revitalization progress. We’ve seen what The Bloc will be like on 7th Street, Flower, and Hope. But very little was known about the 8th Street side of the project — until now. Yesterday, work started on three exciting permanent murals commissioned by The Bloc’s ownership, The Ratkovich Company, that will adorn the bland fortress-like walls, transforming the streetscape into a colorful and artistic urban experience.
Wow! First announced in February 2013 almost two years ago, the very much anticipated Tender Greens is now finally open in Downtown LA! Although it soft opened this past Friday, the first official opening day will be tomorrow on Monday, October 20. Due to the historic nature of the space inside the 1908 PacMutual Building at 6th/Olive, many construction delays postponed the opening of the restaurant by almost 10 months. Downtown residents and office workers have been waiting eagerly for Tender Greens — known for their simple, healthy and delicious menu — to open, helping to activate once sleepy 6th Street in the Financial District into the next eatery hotspot. The great news everyone who lives and works downtown should know is that the new downtown location will be open for dinner. I repeat, Tender Greens in Downtown LA will be open for dinner!
Brisbane, Australia-based travel agency, Flight Centre USA (FC USA), is planning to open a “hyperstore” of its Liberty Travel brand in Downtown LA by early next year. This new exciting concept will bring to Los Angeles a different and more dynamic way of interacting with your travel agency. The very first hyperstore opened in New York in late 2012 with a 10,000 square foot space on Madison Ave. The second hyperstore opened in Boston in late 2013. Los Angeles will be the first west coast city to open a Liberty Travel hyperstore upgrading from its current smaller store location near 7th and Flower in the Financial District.
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.
Back in April, we were excited to announce that one of the most popular bakeries from The Valley — Studio City to be exact — was opening at the beautiful Welton Becket-designed Pegasus Apartments in Downtown LA. Four months later, Big Sugar Bakeshop opened last week near the corner of Wilshire and Flower next door to Caffe Primo. The petite 600 square foot space (but with ultra-high ceilings!) is packed with yummy goodness that goes beyond just cupcakes where you’ll find favorites like red velvet and the doughnut muffin. In fact, Big Sugar has established a reputation since its inception in 2006 for being a “one stop shop” where you can pick up not only a cake, but a few more cupcakes and cookies as well as greeting cards and other small gift items. In addition, Groundwork coffee is served that’s been perfect for early morning office workers who work nearby.
Yesterday was so much fun. I was invited by FOX 11 to come on their noon show to talk about Downtown LA (my favorite subject of course) and all the newest exciting things happening that are putting our once ignored urban center back on the map. Check out the video above and here are the topics we covered:
- New high-rises proposed in the Historic Core
- New developments blocking sidewalks an issue for pedestrians
- Broadway’s amazing road diet and pedestrian plazas
- Retail continues with Macy’s Plaza $180 million makeover
- And Trader Joe’s rumors!
Thank you again so much to FOX 11 News!
Almost two years after developer Wood Partners first began construction, the new 8th+Hope apartment tower began accepting resident move-ins earlier this month in August. Designed by Atlanta-based The Preston Partnership, the modern gleaming tower clad throughout in blue-green glass rises 22 stories high and adds another 290 rental units to the market including: 1, 2, and 2½ bedrooms with square footages ranging from 707 to 1,634. Every single unit gets a private balcony. Impressive.
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.
More eateries are coming to Union Station in Downtown LA! A very popular crepe restaurant from Santa Monica located on Third Street Promenade called Cafe Crepe (they’re originally from Canada with locations in Vancouver and Toronto) will be opening later this year taking over a space once occupied by Union Bagel, which shuttered three years ago in 2011. According to a manager at Cafe Crepe I spoke to, the lease was just signed and they are hoping to open before the end of this year. The new eatery will sit directly across from the much revered fine dining Traxx Restaurant, which has been operating since 1997. Cafe Crepe will also have patio seating like Traxx and add to a growing number of new businesses opening inside LA’s landmark train station including T & Y Bakery opening soon.
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.