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.
Category Archives: retail
Drugstores are ubiquitous and a daily part of life in most large city centers in America. Go to New York and you won’t be more than a block or two away from a Duane Reade store. Go to Chicago and the same is true for Walgreens (which actually owns Duane Reade). Even internationally speaking in Taipei (where my dad lives), you’re never too far from a Watsons store. Here in our growing Downtown LA, we have two Rite Aid stores — one at 7th/Hope and one at 5th/Broadway — and both stores have been a complete let down, unfortunately. The one at 5th and Broadway has been a huge thorn in the side of downtown revitalization as residents nearby have continuously complained about the store’s shoddy appearance and lack of concern toward the “shady activities” that take place right outside their front door. Some have even called it a “cesspool.” That’s why it’s so exciting for me to find out that some real positive changes are finally coming. In fact, half of it is already here. The Rite Aid store at 7th/Hope, which was the lesser of two evils, has just completed a, dare I say, beautiful remodeling job that has changed the shopping experience there completely.
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!
Ralphs Fresh Fare in Downtown LA is more than just a grocery store. Sure it’s one of the highest grossing Ralphs in their entire chain, but it’s also considered a major milestone in the history of Downtown LA’s urban revitalization. Before the supermarket opened in July 2007 at the corner of 9th/Flower in South Park, the small but growing population of new downtown residents really didn’t have anywhere to shop for groceries. It goes without saying that it was kind of a huge deal when Ralphs opened because it meant you could actually buy groceries without leaving downtown. That was critical for supporting the downtown population growth that allowed for more businesses to open. Now seven years later, Downtown LA is a much different place. You could say we’re finally coming to a tipping point of no return. When it comes to grocery stores, the competition is about to get heated soon. Not only did Smart & Final Extra open down the street from Ralphs last year, but next year a large 42,000 square foot Whole Foods will open just a few blocks away at 8th/Grand, and potentially a new Trader Joe’s will open at The Bloc also just up the street at 8th/Hope. As a result, Ralphs Fresh Fare is starting on an exciting $2.5 million remodeling project that will keep the grocery store attractive and competitive within downtown.
[Update 8/15/14: Per a job listing on glassdoor.com, we have learned that the new Gap store on Broadway will be the Gap Factory Store. There are currently a couple in the LA area in Downtown Burbank and the Citadel Outlets in Commerce.]
The rumors were right! DTLA Rising has learned that giant clothing retailer, Gap, has signed a lease at 737 S Broadway near the intersection of 8th/Broadway, not far from the new Urban Outfitters and close to all the other exciting new developments coalescing around the new Ace Hotel near 9th/Broadway. Gap will take up 8,500 square feet of ground floor retail space facing Broadway as part of a new redevelopment project for the historic structure built in 1913, which is also actively in the process of converting the upper floors to creative office space.
Announced back in Nov 2013, a brand new CVS drug store opened yesterday (on Sunday) on the southwest corner of 7th and Spring in the Historic Core. Located on the ground floor of the historic 1912 Van Nuys building—containing 299 senior housing units above—the new 13,800 square foot CVS store already has a dramatic new effect on the immediate corner. It’s kind of weird and wonderful at the same time to see a brand new store open with lots of people going in and out of a space that was once empty and lifeless for so long. A large red CVS sign sits above the main front entrance facing 7th Street directly across from the Bartlett lofts. Although this is technically CVS’s second location downtown (another small, long-forgotten CVS store is located at the very sad LA Mall in the Civic Center), it really feels like the first one given that hardly anyone has seen or heard of the other one before.
Can you believe it’s only been less than two years since City Target first opened in Downtown LA back in late 2012? Before that, the idea of having any major retailer downtown was still considered a pipe dream. Sure it was “just another” Target, but to downtown residents, it meant a lot more to us. It meant we could finally buy an iPad or a vacuum cleaner without having to leave downtown for simple basic stuff. And who could’ve imagined that a year later, retailers that would usually only open on the Westside (like on Robertson, Melrose, or Beverly) were actually opening stores downtown (i.e., Acne Studios, Aesop, OAK NYC, etc.) creating the beginnings of a bona fide new shopping district. Thank goodness the retail momentum continues to grow stronger. In fact, two of the most recent exciting additions to Downtown LA—H&M and Zara, both the largest flagship stores in SoCal, which opened 3 months and 2 months ago respectively—are already doing better than anyone could’ve expected.
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.
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!
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.
Located at Wilshire/Hope in the heart of the Financial District is the 12-story 626 Wilshire office building also known as the Golden Boy building because it was purchased in 2004 by famed boxer Oscar de la Hoya. Now appropriately enough, a new high-end boutique gym called City Athletix will be taking over the entire ground floor retail space of the building totaling 12,000 square feet. Replacing what used to be a credit union branch, a Sprint cell phone store, and a wine and spirit shop, City Athletix will be offering members a high-end fitness experience — towel service will be included — with more approachable prices.
It started off with Acne Studios in December of last year. The upscale Swedish fashion line opened their global flagship store at the corner of 9th and Broadway on the ground floor of the beautiful turquoise art deco Eastern Columbia building. Then just last month in early May, another upscale retailer called Austere opened a block away at the corner of 9th and Hill on the ground floor of a historic parking structure in a 5,000 square foot space once an old auto showroom. Austere is as much a showroom as it is retail, according to its owner Fredrik Carlstrom. The store features sleek Scandinavian designs ranging from furniture to clothes and even a sparkling white Volvo SUV parked in the middle of the cavernous raw space with exposed concrete ceilings. Now, the much-welcomed Swedish invasion into Downtown LA continues with a soon-to-open barbershop called Roy & Son.
So it was “supposed to” open yesterday on June 4th, but there was a small tiny delay because of one little city inspection that still needed to be passed before Zara could finally open. The inspection happened literally at midnight (last night) and obviously went smoothly because Zara opened their doors today at 10 am. All the window coverings were removed, revealing a beautifully built out store that becomes a solid anchor at the FIGat7th shopping center (along with H&M and City Target). Nevertheless, one more day of not opening felt like an entire week for many of us who have been eager to see LA’s newest and largest Zara flagship store open in Downtown LA, signaling the rising change happening to our once-desolate and abandoned urban core.
[Update 9/10/14: The Vail recently received its Certificate of Occupancy from the City and is now accepting rental applicants]
Brand new to the market! Located at 735 S Broadway near the 8th Street intersection, The Vail adds six new spacious 1,800 square foot lofts for rent to Broadway with 3,800 square feet of ground floor retail. Built in 1908 as the Rowley Building, the historic conversion project is from the same developers who brought us The Mandel in Downtown LA. According to the developer, “The Vail” was a small department store that once occupied the building in the early 1900s.
- Six brand new lofts for rent (2 per floor)
- 1,800 square foot lofts
- One bedroom units on 2nd/3rd floors
- Two bedroom units on penthouse level
- Brand new stainless steel kitchens
- Washer and dryer included
- 15+ foot high ceilings
- Exposed original brick walls
- Interior courtyard with patio balconies
- Pet friendly
For more info and/or to schedule a viewing, please email Brigham Yen.
(More pictures of The Vail below)