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.
Category Archives: pedestrian oriented
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.
Bunker Hill is shaping up to be one of the most culturally powerful centers in the country. A centralized cultural collection along Grand Ave consisting of the LA Music Center, MOCA, and the Colburn School will finally be joined by The Broad contemporary art museum — a cultural gem in the making now under construction next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall and slated to open sometime in 2015 after a frustrating 15-month delay. When completed next year, The Broad will house billionaire Eli Broad’s contemporary art collection with over 2,000 pieces of art from the likes of Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman, and Ed Ruscha. But beyond the amazing art itself, it’s also just as much about making Downtown LA an enjoyable existence for the pedestrians of Los Angeles. The Broad will be adding an exciting outdoor plaza that will make Grand Ave more pedestrian-oriented, and ultimately, help make Downtown LA a cohesive walkable community — the urban oasis Los Angeles yearns for.
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).
A large 440-unit residential mixed-use project called Avant is now nearing completion on the southern edge of South Park in Downtown LA just south of Pico and across from the LA Convention Center. The three phase project — developed by Century West Partners and designed by local Downtown LA architect firm GMP — is comprised of three separate 7-story buildings with studios, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. Situated between Figueroa and Flower Streets, the first phase facing Flower with 76 rental apartments (including 4 live/work units) is now accepting move-ins with already 30 units leased out and 10 units scheduled to be occupied by the end of May. The second phase facing Figueroa with 171 units is slated to open next month in June with an exciting designer showcase event spanning three days (June 24 thru 26) that will allow prospective residents to check out some really decked out designer model units. With 193 units, the third and largest phase — also along Figueroa and just south of the second phase portion separated by a surface parking lot — is actively under construction with the wood framing still exposed and scheduled to be completed by early 2015. Building Los Angeles reports that another mixed-use project is already in the initial planning stages to fill in the surface lot between the two Avant buildings.
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.
Over the last two months since we found out that some very exciting upgrades were coming to Union Station in Downtown LA, work has been humming along with construction upgrades to the station including: the addition of new wayfinding signage; major touch-up work like fresh paint on walls and floors getting a beautiful shiny glossy polish; and other restoration work that’s really producing some very exciting and dramatic results. Part of the wayfinding signage program being implemented even includes a new towering interactive kiosk in the east portal section of the station and new large digital schedule screens for Amtrak and Metrolink.
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.”
New gelato cafe, Gelateria Uli, opened this Monday inside the Broadway-Spring Arcade, one of Downtown LA’s most unique and beautiful historic buildings. The new dessert shop, owned by downtown resident Uli Nasibova, joins both Crepes Sans Frontieres (opened in 2013) and Famima (opened in 2012) as the arcade’s new businesses that are helping to transform this historic pedestrian corridor into an exciting and thriving center once again.
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.
A very, very exciting mixed-use project is in the early planning stages over in El Pueblo just north of the 101 freeway and south of Chinatown, which is the historic birthplace of Downtown LA, and to a greater extent, the birthplace of Los Angeles itself. In fact, the oldest residence still standing in Los Angeles, Avila Adobe built in 1818, remains one of Downtown LA’s main visitor attractions located on historic Olvera Street within El Pueblo. Now, exciting plans are taking shape to further enhance and strengthen El Pueblo allowing for both visitors and Angelenos alike to embrace and appreciate the historic value of the district. A non-profit foundation based in El Pueblo called LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes is currently in the process of selecting a developer to build two mixed-use projects, named “LA Plaza Cultura Village,” on two county-owned parking lots just west of the foundation’s headquarters on Main Street that will connect El Pueblo to its surrounding communities including Chinatown and Union Station.
It’s been almost a whole year (last May 2013) since we found out that Le Pain Quotidien (aka LPQ) was coming to the PacMutual in Downtown LA. After a little delay — it was supposed to open in February this year — LPQ finally opened last Saturday about a week ago and has been serving up breakfast and lunch with a menu of tartines, quiches, soups and salads along with coffee and tea paired with an array of fresh yummy pastries.
South Park in Downtown LA just keeps getting hotter and hotter! Recently announced are a slew of new proposed shiny high-rises set to break ground in the next year or so that will give our growing skyline a major shot in the arm — how exciting! Now let’s add another tower to the mix, this time at the northeast corner of 9th and Hope also in South Park (directly adjacent to the u/c boutique “Empire Hotel“). The new 33-story residential tower — to be called “888 South Hope” — will be developed by CIM Group, which just recently purchased Two Cal Plaza on Bunker Hill and also developed the Market-Gas Company Lofts across the street.