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.
Category Archives: retail
Since it was announced last year, many downtowners have been following with so much excitement the amazing redevelopment of The Bloc in Downtown LA. Formerly known as Macy’s Plaza, the reopening of the shopping center in late 2015 will be one of the most highly anticipated developments in Downtown LA’s urban renaissance, mostly because it sits in such a strategic location in the heart of the Financial District. If it remained shitty, it would continue to stifle downtown’s potential. If it’s successful at drawing people after it reopens, it obviously will do wonders for the continued revitalization of Downtown LA. And a very important part of what will make The Bloc attractive is the extensive remodeling work that will go into the Macy’s department store, including the exciting addition of a La Brea Bakery — a Southern California icon.
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.
After finding out that a Gap Factory Store is slated to open on Broadway (near 8th Street) instead of a regular Gap, some people (including myself) were a bit disappointed for obvious reasons. Why would Gap put an outlet store in Downtown LA? With so many new higher end retail stores opening nearby (i.e., Acne Studios, Aesop, OAK NYC, etc), why wouldn’t Gap open a regular store — maybe even a flagship store to make a huge impressive statement like what Zara and H&M did at FIGat7th? Both stores are now one of the highest performing locations in their respective chains in Southern California proving that “untested” Downtown LA is definitely capable of being a viable market for retail.
Another reason to head over to the Little Tokyo Galleria at 3rd/Alameda, which is going from a once completely dead mall to a fun and interesting spot to visit again for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Adding to that is a brand new Daiso Japan store that opened this past weekend on the first floor of the 3-story shopping center. At 8,300 square feet large, it’s packed with just about everything you can imagine! For those unfamiliar with Daiso, it’s basically like a Japanese version of LA’s 99 Cents Only store except most items are $1.50 at Daiso. And pretty much all the products in the store are also “Daiso branded,” which includes just about everything you can think of from common household items to office and school supplies, stuff for the bathroom and kitchen, products for pets, handy storage containers, holiday decorations, to useful electronic items like mini USB cables. Oh yeah, and there’s also a pretty sizeable snack section stocked with Asian goodies.
Earthbar is now officially open at the PacMutual Building on 6th Street in Downtown LA’s Financial District. For those who aren’t familiar with Earthbar, the easiest way to think about them is a wellness brand that promotes a healthy diet and lifestyle. The store menu offers a wide selection of fresh smoothies like Muscle Up (packed with protein) and Green Detox (made with bananas, pineapple, hemp milk and raw kale). In addition to smoothies, there’s also acai bowls, “concentrated liquid nutrition” shots, and Superfood Coffee that adds goji, rooibos and honey bush to coffee made with Arabica beans. At the front of the store, there’s a grab-and-go section offering pressed juices and pre-made packaged foods and snacks (like spirulina-cashew bars). To top off the health kick, there’s a large selection of vitamins and other supplements located next to the pre-made meals.
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.
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.