Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chic New Bar Opens in Korea Town

Yesterday, LA Eater announced the opening of Lock & Key, a chic new 1920's influenced bar, at 239 South Vermont Avenue.  For those familiar with the area, a high-end speakeasy may be the last thing that anyone would have anticipated.  The almost bizarre contrast is unavoidable.  But then again, that may be exactly what the owners intended.  There is no such thing as bad publicity.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Climbing Gym Coming to Arts District

According to Racked, Touchstone Climbing will open a new bouldering gym in the heart of the Arts District.  Located on Factory Place, the gym will cater to the anticipated influx of new residents in the area, and will feature 15 foot walls, meaning that climbers will probably not use ropes.  Look for more recreational facilities to begin appearing downtown soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

S&P/Case-Shiller Index: Good News for Home Values

Today the S&P Dow Jones Indices released data illustrating an average annual gain of 7.3% for home values nationally.  According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, home values in Los Angeles rose an average 10.2% in 2012, with a 1.1% gain in December alone.  The news is better than most had anticipated and would appear to confirm both the end of the recession, and the beginning of a new expansion.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Auto Museum to Receive Major Overhaul

On January 11th, Peter Mullin, a prolific businessman, philanthropist, and art enthusiast was named as the Chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum, located near the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax.  After a little more than a month in his position, Mr. Mullin has announced a $35 - $40 million dollar plan to fully renovate the exterior of the museum, and drastically enhance its current collection.  The OC Register reports that it is anticipated that the changes will be implemented over the course of the coming year, and that Mr. Mullin is confident that he will be able to raise sufficient funding for the project from private donors.  Mullin is no stranger to automotive museums--he currently operates his own in Oxnard--and so his ambition and tenacity come as no surprise.  Here's wishing him success.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Location Confirmed for Rao's LA

LA Eater reports that management has has finally decided on a location for the Los Angeles version of Rao's, one of Harlem's oldest and most well known Italian eateries.  The new restaurant will be located at 1006 Seward Street, between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue.  The intercity expansion of boutique restaurants and retailers is welcome news for the local economy.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bidding for Staples Center Parent Company Enters Second Round

The New York Post reports that bidding for Anschutz Entertainment Group ('AEG') has entered its second round.  In addition to the LA Kings, LA Galaxy, and partial control of the LA Lakers, Los Angeles based AEG owns the O2 Arena, and the Staples Center.  Guggenheim Partners, one of the few bidders to make the second round, recently acquired ownership of Dodgers Stadium.  As the local economy improves, sports arenas, such as the Staples Center and Dodgers Stadium, will see a large opportunity to seize on increased consumer spending.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Big Plans for Broadway

According to the Los Angeles Downtown News, developer Geoff Palmer has announced plans for a large two building housing project to be located on either side of Olympic Boulevard, between Broadway and Main Street.  The first building will feature 439 units in ten stories, with 247 units in six stories planned for the second.  If all goes well, both buildings will open in early 2017.  This is third development announced for the Broadway/Main Street corridor this week.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fashion District Project Moves Forward

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Department of City Planning published a notice of preparation of an environmental impact report and scoping meeting for the massive redevelopment project planned for the fashion district.  The project will encompass almost the entirety of the property located between 9th, 12th, San Julian, and San Pedro Street.  It is anticipated that the project will take nearly thirty years and, once completed, will feature 945 residential units, up to 210 hotel rooms, 294,641 square feet of industrial, office, and medical space, 224,862 square feet of retail space, and 312,112 square feet of educational campus floor area.  The scoping meeting is currently scheduled for March 6th, and comments may be submitted for formal consideration until March 22nd.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New Apartment Towers Planned for Broadway and Main

The Los Angeles Downtown News is reporting that developer Izek Shomof plans to construct a 22 story apartment tower at his newly acquired property, located at 4th and Broadway.  Barry Shy, another developer, has announced plans to construct a 40 story tower at 6th and Main.  Both properties are located between the Historic Core and Bunker Hill, near the Pershing Square Metro Station.  The growing residential density in downtown is welcome news for both the local economy, and the environment; as new businesses rise to meet a growing demand, we should see fewer cars as downtowners find it more convenient to walk or take public transit on a much shorter commute.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Market Lofts Sold

Today, the CIM Group, one of the first developers to capitalize on the Los Angeles Adaptive Reuse Ordinance of 1999, announced that it has sold the Market Lofts, located on 9th Street, between Hope and Flower.  The 55,000 square foot property houses 267 condominiums, over 6 retail spaces, and a Ralphs Supermarket.  For many, this sale marks a turning point for the Los Angeles economy, and signals a symbolic end to the recession that has plagued the downtown real estate market for the past five years.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bludso's BBQ Now on La Brea

This afternoon, the much lauded Bludso's of Compton comes to La Brea, just south of Hollywood border.  LA Weekly reports that, thanks to the new location's previous occupants, this version of Bludso's will hold a type 47 license, which will allow it to sell hard liquor as well as beer.  It is anticipated that the new location will perform very well, possibly outpacing its Compton sister before long.  The ambitious move is yet another indicator of the LA economy's gaining momentum, and the vitality of local small business.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Future of Parking

On Thursday, Los Angeles based AutoParkiT will unveil the city's first ever fully automated parking facility.  The facility, which is located at 14309 Burbank Boulevard, and is annexed to a high end apartment complex, allows users to securely store and retrieve their cars in an impressively efficient and effective manner.  In addition to saving over 6,000 gallons of gasoline per year, the automated facility is over 25% more compact than a typical traditional parking facility.  If it proves popular with users, we can probably expect to start seeing similar facilities elsewhere throughout the city before long.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Tommy Hilfiger Comes to Los Angeles

On Wednesday, world renowned Thomas Jacob Hilfiger celebrated the opening of his new flagship retail store, located on the corner of Robertson and Beverly.  The 6,600 squarefoot space will showcase the designer's latest fashions. reports that several celebrities, including Alicia Keyes, Olivia Munn, and Ed Westwick were in attendance.  Not too shabby at all.

Friday, February 15, 2013

At Work Community for Techies to Open on Monday

In 2009, entrepreneurs Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey saw a need for smaller, more efficient and affordable working spaces for budding entrepreneurs in a post-recession economy.  In response, they launched WeWork, a development firm connected to building shared at work communities across the US.  The first building, constructed in SoHo in early 2010, proved a success and led to several more buildings across the country, including one at 7083 Hollywood Boulevard.  On Monday, a floor of the Hollywood location will be rebranded as We Work Labs, and dedicated specifically to techies.  In an interview with the International Business Times, Adam Neumann explained how changing views and opinions on collaboration and ownership will increase the demand for shared at work communities like We Work.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Retailer Comes to The Grove

This afternoon, Topshop will open their very first Los Angeles store at The Grove Mall, located at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Third Street.  The Los Angeles Times reports that the opening will be accompanied by food, live music, and celebrity guest appearances.  Topshop is one of the world's largest and well known British retailers.  It specializes in high end clothing, shoes, accessories, and cosmetics.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dodgers Stadium Renovations Less Ambitious than Anticipated

Shortly after rescuing the Dodgers from bankruptcy proceedings in May of last year, Guggenheim Baseball Management announced plans for over $100,000,000 in renovations.  Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times published an interview with the Director of Planning, Janet Marie Smith.  The interview sheds light on the upcoming changes to the stadium, and reveals that they are not nearly as grandiose or radical as some might have anticipated.  Such a lax attitude may actually be taken as a good sign, as it demonstrates a considerable amount of confidence in the current economy, and its ability to support the Dodgers.  Regardless, after nearly four years of declining revenues, something must change if the team is going to avoid a second stint in bankruptcy court.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Good News for The Mortgage Industry

The Home Buying Institute reports that mortgage delinquencies fell by almost 14% last year, per a survey published by Transunion.  It is anticipated that this news will lead to increased confidence, and investment in the mortgage industry.  The drop in delinquencies may be due in large part to the efforts of mortgage lending programs such as NeighborhoodLIFTS, administered by Neighborworks, a nonprofit organization, in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and Wells Fargo Bank, which recently celebrated its one year anniversary.  Such programs provide down payment assistance to qualifying applicants who otherwise could not purchase a home, on condition that those applicants complete a home buyer education training course.  It is anticipated that the training will lead to more responsible borrowing, which would have the effect of reducing delinquencies.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Jordan Downs Project to Interface Public With Private

This Weekend, the Los Angeles Times published a report detailing progress on the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles' ('HACLA') ambitious five year plan to revitalize the Jordan Downs housing project.  Located at the southern border of Los Angeles City, in the neighborhood of Watts, Jordan Downs has attracted significant national attention since its opening in 1955.  Its use and purpose have been both lauded and condemned as an exemplar of public housing and welfare services.  In an attempt to revitalize both the project and surrounding area, HACLA purchased 28 acres of adjacent land, with the intent of constructing an additional 900 - 1,100 residential units, as well as industrial, office and retail space.  Once completed, it is contemplated that current residents will be moved into the new units, so that the old units may be renovated.  After nearly five sluggish years, during which HACLA's resources have been almost entirely dedicated to preparing current residents for the transition, it is anticipated that this year will finally see development commence.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crepes in Westwood

A new cafe opened up in Westwood over the weekend between Le Conte Avenue and Wayburn Avenue.  According to LA Weekly, the owner, Mickey Fathi, worked at Habibi Cafe, located next door, for over ten years before branching out on his own.  "The cafe serves sweet and savory crepes, pastries, panini and boasts a deli case with salads, meats and cheeses."  Yelp reviews are sparse so, when you get a chance, head over to the cafe, order a crepe, and share your opinion.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Rehabbing Justice

Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Annual Report uploaded a video report detailing progress on the renovations and repairs being made to the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice.  Built in 1925, the Hall of Justice initially housed the courts, district attorney's offices, sheriff's offices, and a jail.  However, extreme damage caused by the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 made occupation of the building unsafe, and, for almost two decades, it has sat empty and abandoned.  Finally, in the spring of last year, Clark Construction began the restoration process.  The renovations will include removal of the jail cells, enlarged office space, a new cafeteria, and a desperately needed parking garage.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Final Design of New Wilshire Grand Unveiled

In the late spring of 2011, Korean Air announced the closure of one of the most well known and beloved buildings in downtown Los Angeles, the Wilshire Grand.  The following year, construction crews began the laborious process of dismantling the building piece by piece.  Now, after several years of planning and negotiations, the final design for the building that will rise in its place has been unveiled.  Initially, plans called for two independent buildings, a sixty-five story office structure and a forty-five story luxury hotel.  However, the Los Angeles Times reports that the new design consists of a single seventy-three story tower that will 'slightly surpass in height the 72-story U.S. Bank Tower on Bunker Hill that has held the title of tallest west of Chicago since 1989.'  Such an ambitious redesign, especially this late in development, is yet another example of increasing investor confidence in the L.A. economy.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Millennium Hollywood Project Presses Forward

According to CBS Local, on Tuesday, Millennium Partners submitted the findings of a fiscal study detailing the projected impact of its acclaimed Millennium Hollywood Project.  The study follows an environmental impact report released in October of last year.  While public hearings are still underway, several prominent business leaders have endorsed the project, and its future looks bright.  Once completed, the project will boast a staggering 492 residential units, 200 luxury hotel units, 215,000 square feet of office space, 34,000 square feet of restaurant space, 35,100 square feet of sports club space, 15,000 square feet of commercial retail space, and approximately 2,000 parking spaces.  Additionally, it is projected that the project will create 2,915 construction jobs, and 1,257 permanent new jobs.  The project reinforces a positive outlook for L.A.'s economy, and its success will undoubtedly help to spur future growth and development.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Expansion of LAX Airport Approved

KTLA is reporting that approval has been given by the L.A. Board of Airport Commissioners to proceed with the development of an enlarged runway, a new rental car facility, and a new terminal at the LAX Airport.  While the expansion will no doubt help to reduce much of the intolerable traffic that the airport is known for, it may also drive many local residents who will, due to the expansion, now be subject to increased noise and pollution, from the area.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Construction on Blossom Plaza to Begin This Summer

The Los Angeles Downtown News is reporting that, after nearly five years in suspension, the long awaited Blossom Plaza Project may finally see the light of day.  One of many projects that stalled as a result of the recession, Blossom Plaza has become a symbol of economic stagnation, and so, news of its return bodes well for the future of Los Angeles. If all goes according to plan, the mixed use development, with an estimated combined total of 240 residential, retail, and restaurant spaces, will open its doors in 2015.  It is anticipated that the development contract, which was originally awarded to Bond Chinatown Ventures, will be awarded to Forest City, a national firm that has completed large-scale developments in nine states (including California), with ongoing development in nineteen others.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Showcasing Past Dreams of Future L.A.

In early December, Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin, prominent figures in both local and national architecture scenes, launched a kick starter project in support of their brain child, 'Never Built', a collection of "words, drawings, models, videos, and other media the show [sic] looks at visionary works that had the greatest potential to reshape the city ..." but, unfortunately, never saw the light of development.  The focus and purpose of the exhibition, which will make its debut at the A+D Museum, is to demonstrate the potential scope of architectural vision, with an eye towards inspiring similar imagination and creativity within its visitors; "Never Built sets the stage for a renewed interest in visionary projects in Los Angeles and dares the city to dream big again."  The project is still $7,000 away from reaching its goal.  If you have the means, and haven't done so already, please visit the Never Built kick starter page and contribute.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Hyatt Returns to Downtown Los Angeles

This week, The Shenzhen New World Group, a China-based real estate developer, announced plans to convert the L.A. Hotel Downtown, which it owns, into a Hyatt-Regency branded hotel.  The conversion will see the culmination of over $20 million of renovations, and is scheduled to finish in May of this year.  The press release states that "Each guestroom and suite will be redone in a welcoming palette of colors, and will feature new carpet, wall treatments, drapery, and all-new contemporary bedding and furnishings, as well as upgraded bathrooms and work areas. The hotel will receive exquisite new design upgrades as well as new floor plans for its more than 22,000 square feet of meeting and event space, which includes 17 versatile meeting rooms, two ballrooms, including 4,000 square feet of pre-function space."  Many contend that the luxury hotel industry is among those that suffer the most during recession, and so, its returning strength may logically be taken as a sure sign of economic vitality and prosperity.   Regardless, such an ambitious project demonstrates, at a minimum, the positive outlook shared by developers and investors alike concerning the future economic growth and development of Los Angeles. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Renovating L.A.'s Central Park

Yesterday, The Los Angeles Downtown News reported on a new effort to renovate and revitalize Pershing Square, the most famous (and perhaps only) public park in downtown Los Angeles.  Anschutz Entertainment Group, the world's largest sports teams and events coordinator, and owner of the Staples Center, has agreed to provide $700,000 in funding for the project.  While any particulars regarding the specific terms of the commitment remain unclear, the reasons for the proposed renovations stem from concerns over access and safety brought on as a result of the 'Occupy Los Angeles' protests last summer.  Pershing Square is beloved by many, and provides many recreational activities to the public, including outdoor movie screenings in the summer, and ice skating in the winter.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Home Prices and Sales Rise in 2012

This week, The Los Angeles Times reported that luxury home sales in California rose 26.9% last year.  This phenomenal jump, explained the Time's Lauren Beale, is due in large part to the return of investor confidence in the market.  "Sales are up because well-heeled U.S. and international buyers, confident that the housing recovery is solid, are looking for places to park their cash ..." writes Beale.  Specifically, international spending on real estate in the U.S. rose an additional 24%.  The future appears even brighter; Bloomberg News reports that some economists predict that housing prices will rise 7.2% nationwide this coming year, marking the highest national gain since 2007.  While home values across California rose an average of 8% in 2012, this number is still nearly 40% below the market's high in early 2006, making now the ideal time to buy for consumers and investors alike.