Day Spa Coming to Hill Street

DTLA Hill Street location 1st expansion for Sunlight Day Spa?
DTLA Hill Street location 1st expansion for Sunlight Day Spa?

A new retail  location on Hill Street between 8th & 9th is going to be a day spa. It’s part of the complex created by LEVEL, the luxury extended stay concept that houses SoulCycle on the ground floor at the corner of 9th and Olive.   Parking above ground is designated for LEVEL guests which, hopefully, will also be available to those spa-goers not within walking distance.

Behind those papered windows are cubicles with individual dry saunas partnered with marble showers. One might guess the rest of the space will include treatment rooms for massages, facials and other well-being services.  A similar concept is based in Overland Park, Kansas by the name of Sunlight Day Spa , with a parent company, Sunlighten , that manufactures saunas using an infrared technology that claims to have added wellness benefits to the basic sauna experience.  Perhaps this DTLA  location is the first expansion of Sunlight Day Spa’s concept?  If so, another kudos to  DTLA in attracting new businesses that see our downtown boom as the place to grow.

LEVEL's pool deck and basketball court sit on top of parking structure with new DTLA day spa on street level.
LEVEL’s pool deck and basketball court sit on top of parking structure with new DTLA day spa on street level.

We won’t know for sure until the sign goes up, but regardless of what company is behind this innovative, and much welcomed destination for residents and visitors, it’s exciting! We could all use a calming escape as we continue to endure the cranes, blocked sidewalks and promises of better bike routes.   And if it IS Sunlight Day Spa out of Kansas, they also support the American Heart Association…any business with a cause is always close to my heart.

DTLA Holiday Shopping

If you haven’t yet ventured downtown for shopping, now’s the time  with 54 awesome retailers to discover!  DTLA is where you’ll  find the most unique items and have the most fun and adventure in the process.  Give yourself enough time to stop along the way…maybe start the day with breakfast at Pitchoun Bakery & Cafe across from Pershing Square and be sure to ignore the sign and DO walk into Please Do Not Enter next door.  Wander in and out of some of the jewelry stores in the neighborhood and if you’re looking for diamonds, my go-to guy is Mervyn at Los Angeles Diamond Factory, 607 S. Hill Street, Suite 302.  Tell him Mary, the napkin ring lady, sent you. He’ll know.  From Hill Street, head one block east to Broadway and south to 9th Street.  In this neighborhood  you’ll find fabulous shops at the intersection of 9th and Broadway.  By the time you’re done in this part of town, you may be ready for lunch.  Any of the restaurants in this area are good, but my favorite is  L.A. Chapter at Ace Hotel.  After a relaxing lunch you’ll be ready to head down to   South Park.  But whether you Uber it, Metro Bike it, or go on sure to  walk across the street from Ace Hotel and pop into Formerly Yes for a curated selection of well-priced modern gift options .  I could go on and on… but just take a look at the map below and have fun planning your own shopping adventure.  And if your excursion takes you downtown after December 17th, don’t miss the new Brigade store in South Park on the street level of the Marriott Courtyard building on Olympic Blvd.  They have the best selection of all your favorite brands.  And you’ll most likely have to set aside another day to cover all the great shopping territory there is in the Arts District!

Where to Shop in DTLA
Where to Shop in DTLA


The Future of Urban Retail



The definitive report on the current status of retail in DTLA and the excitement of what's to come.
The definitive report on the current status of retail in DTLA and the excitement of what’s to come.

I recently had the privilege of working with the DTLA Downtown Center Business Improvement District  to write a special report on the Future of Urban Retail.  If you haven’t noticed it yet, DTLA is quickly becoming  THE place to go for restaurants, entertainment… AND NOW…SHOPPING!  The report takes an in-depth look at  DTLA’s 8 key districts and profiles what’s hot in DTLA retail right now along with what’s going to define the personality and excitement of these districts in the months to come. Stay tuned…the story just keeps getting better!

Winging Towards New Ventures

Taking flight in new directions
Taking flight in new directions

On November 15, 1996 the movie “Space Jam,” starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, opened in theaters.  Nick turned 3 years-old the following week so we took him to see the movie at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly was on the soundtrack and it was one of those songs that stuck.   For months after seeing the movie, we’d pop the CD in every morning on our way to Wagon Wheel preschool and sing together at the top of our lungs.  For years after that, whenever the song came on the radio and we were in the car together, we’d go right back into our full-throttle voices.

That song came to mind again this week as my new theme song.   This Monday marks the first day of the launch of my own firm, The Fagnano Effect, and the end of a 27-year career as the West Coast Sales Director for Lebhar-Friedman Publishing, the wonderful company where I experienced all the twists and turns in the world of publishing as we transitioned from a print to a digital media company.

Today, I’ve jumped out of the nest.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t believe that all the experience I’ve gained over the years is what’s given me my wings.  I now seek new heights, the most beaconing of which will be seeing the Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation reach its full potential in making a difference in the lives of others by encouraging and rewarding character through education and recreation.

So today, as the lyrics of the song go:

There are miracles in life I must achieve                                                                But first I know it starts inside of me, oh….                                                                   I believe I can fly

And the timing, as with so many things in my life, is directly connected to Nick.  “You can do it, Mom,” I heard him say, “It’s my Mother’s Day present to you.”

So thanks to our good friend Steve Kowalski and his associate Lucinda Yang, I’m excited to debut the official logo for our foundation:

Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation

And thanks to my good friend John Klein, the creative director of Klein Mickaelian Partners Advertising and his associate, Kathye Hicks, I’m excited to share my new contact information:

Mary Fagnano Contact Info
Mary Fagnano Contact Info

Nick has his wings.  Now he’s helped me find mine.  Just let me know if I can fly over your way to hatch any new ideas that involve writing, marketing, branding, event planning or technology solutions.

Why I Voted for Councilmember Jose Huizar in Today’s Election

umbrellas on Broadway

We moved to Downtown Los Angeles in May of 2013 and in the past 20 months I’ve never seen more progress in a community than what I’ve observed Downtown under the leadership and vision of 14th District Councilmember Jose Huizar.

And it’s not just progress, it’s also his concern for how the progress evolves. I reached out to Councilmember Huizar’s office shortly after Nick passed away when I read that Huizar was looking into programs to further assist the homeless while also making our streets cleaner and safer.  He was investigating the possibility of “parking” meters installed in various locations around the city that would accept change and credit card donations to support organizations that aid the homeless.  Our dear Nick was always reaching out and wanting to help those who were living on the streets around us and, inspired by Nick’s concern, I felt this initiative would give people a place to donate and hopefully eliminate some of the drug sellers that prey on the homeless who depend on handouts to support their habit. While there is no perfect solution. I thought this one had possibilities.

Diana Edoyan in Councilmember Huizar’s office promptly responded to my request for a meeting and we had a very productive discussion around how helping the homeless could also be tied in with a greater city initiative around creating awareness for how we all live in the city together and how a spirit of kindness and social consciousness,  the way Nick approached life,  would continue to contribute to the livability of Downtown along with the physical revitalization efforts. Whether I was being overly optimistic or not, Diana was excited about what I was suggesting and was open to taking these ideas to her boss. I’d never been to City Hall before and this first experience was one of collaboration–even though I was just one citizen with an idea that I wanted to share.

A few months later, I attended Councilmember Huizar’s homeless solutions panel where multiple stakeholders and a vocal audience with differing opinions all had a chance to speak. It was a bold move on his part and Huizar handled it with great concern and sensitivity . I’ve heard Huizar speak to students at USC’s Price School of Public Policy and listened to his vision for Downtown. It doesn’t just focus on business and more buildings, it’s also about building community, livability and a place where families want to spend the day enjoying all that downtown has to offer. It also addressed the importance of being proud of who and what we are as a city.

The idea of Bringing Back Broadway was one of the reasons we wanted to live in the Eastern Columbia Building and have a front row seat to the beautification of our neighborhood. I had a big smile the day the bistro tables and red umbrellas went up on the street. It makes a statement that WE care but it took a leader like Councilmember Huizar to make that statement. I love to see all the people actually sitting at the tables that, along with the planters, create an ambiance on the street. Yes, we still have a long way to go, but you see people eating their lunch or enjoying a coffee with friends and it shows that we’ve come out from behind our walls and we’re meeting our neighbors.

Of course I love all the new retailers who have been attracted to the area and the shopping and dining discoveries that seem to pop up on a weekly basis within the blocks surrounding our building.  Some people express concern about too much building. I recognize that I moved to a city and one that is changing, at that. I want to see history preserved and I want to see more green space, too. BUT if Jose Huizar is not re-elected I fear we’re going to stall our progress and lose all the momentum that he’s worked so hard to get going. I know first-hand he will listen and that he has an incredibly talented and dedicated staff that will help him stay aware of what his constituents’ needs are.

According to Wikipedia, Jose Huizar was born in Zacatecas, Mexico. His father was a migrant farm worker and later a machinist. His mother, Isidra Serrano, was a meatpacking plant worker. His family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Boyle Heights. Jose graduated from U.C. Berkeley, got his law degree from UCLA and received his Masters of Public Policy from Princeton. If I’m looking for the right person to hire for a challenging job, those papers alone shout “Qualified!” But character counts just as much–and no one is perfect…it’s how you move forward from a challenge that is the real test of character, and I believe Jose has proved that as well.

If you live in District 14 your vote is critical. Please be sure you get to the polls before they close tonight at 8 p.m. In case you haven’t figured it out…I hope you cast your vote for Councilmember Jose Huizar.

Bringing Back Broadway Celebration Tonight in DTLA

DTLA Celebrates the 7th Anniversary of Bringing Back Broadway Tonight!

Tonight’s going to be another reason why we love living in DTLA.  Since we moved to the Eastern Columbia Building in May of 2013 we’ve seen the changes on Broadway continue to accelerate and the ride just keeps getting better.  Council Member Jose Huizar is the catalyst for this change and I’m actively supporting his re-election and getting involved in my precinct to get everyone registered to vote so they can cast their ballot for him to insure that his initiatives continue to move forward.  It’s critical that we have a representative that appreciates the history of Downtown Los Angeles and wants to see it preserved as well as put to good use.

According to the book Downtown in Detail, with captivating architectural photographs of DTLA by Tom Zimmerman and foreword by Linda Dishman,  “Los Angeles has the most intact pre-World War II downtown in the United States.”

Downtown in Detail by Tom Zimmerman Foreward by Linda Dishman
Downtown in Detail by Tom Zimmerman Foreword by Linda Dishman

On the 7th Anniversary of the Broadway initiative here are a few of the reasons the book gives us to appreciate and continue to revive and make use of  the architectural treasures we have here in DTLA:

  • While several buildings on the west side of Downtown were demolished in the 1960s to build the Harbor Freeway, there was no reason to tear down the Historic Core because there was no desire to build anything new there.
  • in 1979 The Historic Core–Main, Spring, Broadway and Hill–was being drained of tenants as businesses and residents sought space in new, modern buildings, but the area became partially protected in 1979 when the Broadway Theater and Commercial District from Third to Ninth Streets and the Spring Street Financial District from Fourth to Seventh Streets were accepted on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • From the  late 1970s on the Historic Core was intact but largely vacant.  At street level, Broadway was the thriving center of Latin American culture and retail, however, the buildings were empty above the second floor.
  • The south end of Hill Street was rescued by the burgeoning jewelry district that took over buildings and theaters while the buildings on the north end of Hill were abandoned.
  • The big change came in 1999 when the Los Angeles City Council (note the importance of a City Council with vision!) passed an Adaptive Re-Use Ordinance allowing conversion of former office buildings into living quarters.  This was a key stimulus to the current loft revolution and reuse of the ornate architectural buildings constructed from 1908 to 1935 –all of which were still standing to be resurrected as apartments and condos.

So if you want to take a peak into all the old theaters on Broadway, experience the life of the city and celebrate our history as well as our progress, come downtown tonight.  See you under the neon lights…on Broadway!

Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home


DTLA: Geological Testing in Lot Behind Eastern Columbia Building

Geological Testing in 9th & Hill Parking Lot
Geological Testing in 9th & Hill Parking Lot

For the past two days there have been rigs testing the soil in the parking lot behind the Eastern Columbia Building at 9th & Hill.  At one time a new  building was in the plans for this space.  Now it looks like construction might be back on the table.   I’m feeling like one of those “Not in my backyard!” types.  I love to see all the progress going on but when it hits this close to home and I think about looking out on another building I get a little nervous.  But at the same time, this is one of those lots that was bound to get re-purposed at some point.  I’ll definitely be at the hearing once the official plans are proposed!

DTLA Shopping: Made-to-Order Jeans and Shirts Plus New Cafe

Parker & Barrow Design Yeam Thelma and Tarek
Parker & Barrow Design Team Thelma Siguenza and Tarek Akaweih

You never know until you walk in, what you might find in DTLA’s new retail stores which are popping up everywhere these days . At Parker & Barrow, which  just opened at 814 S. Broadway on the same block as Urban Outfitters, I discovered that this store offers women’s and men’s PB brand jeans  off the rack or the option of getting a pair made to order with a custom fit and color choice.

Parker & Barrow is the vision realized of Thelma Siguenza who describes herself as a “fit architect.”  She’s been responsible for the fit that has made Joe’s Jeans such a phenomena and she also lends her expertise to a myriad of other jeans and pants companies.   By today’s  price standards for jeans, PBs are reasonable–around $125–plus a nominal add-on if you go with custom made options that can include a little longer leg, waist adjustment or maybe narrower or wider at the bottom.  Once you have your first custom order, your specs stay on file making it easy to order in another color or fabrication.

Men can also get custom shirts made in fabric combinations selected from bolts on display.  These aren’t your father’s custom shirts — the Xeres (pronounced “series”) label, designed by Tarek Akaweih, takes the shirt to a whole new dimension with the finished product making a significant statement of individuality.

I tried on one of the PB jeans and couldn’t resist  the  soft brushed cotton with a slimming stretch to the fabric.  There were about eight colors to choose from and I decided on a faded military green.  The fit was perfect but I opted for an extra inch at the bottom and Thelma suggested tapering the leg a little bit more.   Stay tuned for next week and I’ll show you how they turned out.

I have a hard time finding scented candles that I really love but I think my search may be over now that I’ve discovered The Fenix Candles which are also found at Parker & Barrow.

Fenix Candles at Parker & Barrow
Fenix Candles at Parker & Barrow
Fenix Candles at Parker & Barrow
Fenix Candles at Parker & Barrow






The Candles come in scents curated for women and men and just smelling each of them can become addictive.  I settled on Greek Currant but it wasn’t easy to narrow it down.  Fortunately the store is just across the street from where I live should a whiff of California Redwood beckon!  There are 182 scents to choose from on the Fenix website.  Thank goodness there are only about 20 choices at Parker & Barrow.

Every shopping trip deserves a break and  the perfect new place to take it is at Verve.  If you’re walking (and you should be) the shortcut from Parker & Barrow on Broadway to Verve at 833 Spring Street is through the parking lot next to Two Boots Pizza then to your right on Spring.

Bringing on the Verve
Bringing on the Verve: Malvina and Katie

Even though they weren’t officially open, Verve managers  Malvina and Katie invited us in for a look around.  They offered to test out their new high-tech coffee machinery on us but we could tell they were still unpacking boxes so we promised we’d be back.  Verve is based in Santa Cruz, CA where they have four locations and this is their first one outside of Santa Cruz.  With the proximity to The Fashion Mart, I can see Verve fast becoming the fashion industry hangout packed with designers and buyers collaborating on the next trend within this creative and spacious environment.

In addition to the coffee choices,  Verve shares its space with Juice Served Here, a LA company.  Lots of fresh raw juice choices and cleanse options for those getting ready for fashion week!

Outside Seating at Verve 833 Spring Street
Outside Seating at Verve 833 Spring Street

The other intriguing feature of Verve is the back room which is the headquarters for the company that designed the space: MAI Studio. Verve  is completely aligned with MAI Studio’s description on their website that states, “Our material  expertise allows us to push the boundaries of design, creating products, interiors and alternative methods of construction which provide innovative solutions to the built environment. Our team draws on a wide range of backgrounds integrating fine art, branding, interior, graphic and industrial design. Our International portfolio includes boutique hotels and restaurants as well as residential and condominium projects.”

Wall Garden of Verve's Outdoor patio
Wall Garden of Verve’s Outdoor patio

While Verve has been in the build-out, I’ve seen the spectacular wall garden in the making.  Week after week plants were being carefully mounted onto the facing walls on each side of the patio.  The seating area is a conservatory of exotic plants where you can breathe in this  welcome oxygenation in the middle of the city while getting even healthier with a bottle of Clean Greens Juice made of Coconut Water, Cucumber, Kale, Spinach, Parsley and Romaine. On the other hand, there are those of us who need of a surge of caffeine through our veins, so the cupping ritual of a Verve coffee, carefully  brewed from beans sourced in remote global villages, might be just what the doctor ordered!

A walk around the block these days has become an adventure and, while everything new is exciting,  I also want to be sure to support places like il caffé  which is connected to Acne Studios, the Swedish clothing retailer located in the Eastern Columbia Building .  When I walk into il caffé they know my name and I inevitably run into one of my neighbors which reinforces the sense of community that continues to make DTLA feel like home.

DTLA’s Renaissance Men Share Their Vision

Last night I attended a “Fireside Chat” with Hal Bastian and Brigham Yen.  the two men who have been the most passionate voices and citizen activists in the renaissance of DTLA . The lounge-y lobby of The Standard Hotel was full of residents, the just curious, and the big investors who all hung on Hal’s and Brigham’s every word .

Brighan Yen (left) and Hal Bastian talk DTLA Renaissance at The Standard Hotel
Brighan Yen (left) and Hal Bastian talk DTLA renaissance at The Standard Hotel
The enrapt and wall to wall audience gave an enthusiastic response to all the good news about DTLA's progress
The enrapt wall- to- wall audience gave an enthusiastic response to the good news they heard about DTLA’s progress

Hal recently launched his own firm, Hal Bastian Inc., after spending the past 20 years in commercial real estate followed by 13 years as the Director of Economic Development for the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DCBID).   While at DCBID, Hal was instrumental in bringing residential and  retail development as well as friendly dogs and their owners to the streets of downtown that were once, not terribly long ago, deserted after 6 p.m.

Brigham told us about how he got his love for DTLA which started when his dad took him on a Greyhound Bus trip from Utah to Denver to Chicago to New York with each city destination getting another “really” in front of the “big.” His dad would preface their arrival at each destination by saying, “Son, this is a  (add 1 REALLY for Denver, 2 for Chicago and 3 for New York) big city!”  At one point Brigham was hired by Hal to work for the DCBID and now he focuses on DTLA real estate  as well as his blog,  DTLA Rising,  where he uncovers all the latest news on what inquiring minds want to know about new developments, retail construction and renovation within each of the downtown districts.

Hal and Brigham, in many ways, reflect the two generations that are the embracers of the DTLA lifestyle–babyboomers and  millennials.  Both demographics have  already discovered why downtown is so great.  At the same time Hal acknowledges that the future of downtown must include  better public schools such as Metro Charter School, that was started by DTLA parents a few years ago, along with more parks and activities for young children such as the annual Halloween Party in the FIDM Park.  The goal is to make it attractive for parents to continue to live downtown when their children reach school age.  Hal argues that young parents who work downtown  might  rethink the time they could lose with their kids due to commuting vs. the trade-off of the house and the back yard (not to mention upkeep!).

Brigham, a Cal Berkeley grad, said he could never understand why his Bay Area friends were always so down on LA.   While he realized as a college student that Los Angeles was still lacking the  city vibe that  he found in San Francisco,  he still wouldn’t give into the jibes.  He described an enjoyable moment of vindication  that came  the other day, when he ran into two  old friends from the Bay Area, one of whom  owns several restaurants.  Brigham said that he asked him, “Hey man, what are YOU doing here in DTLA?”  “I love it here,” his friend replied, “There’s so much cool stuff happening.”  For Brigham that was one of those ultimate reassurances of knowing that what you’ve been working so hard for has materialized.

Hal gave us a great quote from Teddy Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  I could think about this one for hours.  Which of these two pictures is better?  I don’t think it matters.  I think we just embrace the change.

Before Los Angeles repealed its building height limit in 1956, flatness prevailed in the city’s skyline. Circa 1940 photograph courtesy of the Dick Whittington Photography Collection, USC Libraries
As a result of a recent policy shift in the outdated LAFD fire code, the new Wilshire Grand Tower will be allowed to have a spire and reduced helipad structure (Photo: AC Martin)
LA Skyline in 2017 when the Wilshire Grand Tower is completed Photo: AC Martin

The photo above shows what the DTLA skyline will look like when the 1,100 Wilshire Grand Tower is completed at 7th and Figueroa in 2017.  This photo was pulled from Brigham Yen’s DTLA Rising blog.

So yes, we can certainly compare one era to another, but we also revel in the uniqueness of our city.  It’s not just the old and it’s not just the new, it’s how the pieces are all working together like the Broadway Trade Center building, formerly May Co. Department Store, formerly Hamburger’s Department Store.  This structure bordered by Broadway, Hill & 8th Streets has been purchased and is going under a major renovation.  No one has the definitive on what or who will occupy the building but the rumors are all intriguing.  I’ve heard that one floor will be the world headquarters of Beats by Dre which is owned by Apple.  Another inside scoop is that the ground floor will be a “world’s fair of mindfulness.” There have been talks of high-end retail, residences and creative office space within this structure which takes up nearly an entire city block.   Most importantly, this building is just a spectacular piece of 1906 Beaux Art architecture that’s been a long time coming in being re-appreciated.

Originally Hamburger's Department Store, then May Co. and soon to be creative office space and more
Originally Hamburger’s Department Store, then May Co. and soon to be creative office space and more

Hal loves to tell how long it took to convince a grocery store to come downtown and finally Ralphs agreed.  7 1/2 years later, this store does $1 million a week in sales and is the #1 take-out deli in the entire Kroger corporation (parent company of Ralphs).  While on the topic of grocery stores there were cheers from the audience for Whole Foods that’s currently under construction at 8th and Grand and Trader Joe’s that agreed to build, not exactly downtown, but rather in the new University Village project by USC.  And we were reminded to be grateful for City Target and Smart & Final Extra…both incredibly clean, well stocked, and super helpful.  Except, and I ask your indulgence here… I still don’t like the idea of having to bag my own groceries the way they expect you to at Smart & Final.  And while I’m on the subject,  I think we’ve all gotten pretty good about bringing our own bags BUT, If I did happen to forget my bags, I am really annoyed with the ten cent, or whatever it is, charge after I’ve spent $50+ on groceries.  Why don’t all the stores who have to abide by this new law have a jar for charity and if you have to buy a bag, put a donation  in a jar for the homeless–don’t make me have to give it to the store!

Now back to the chat:  Brigham said people used to say that LA  “had no soul” referring to no appreciation for the history of the city and vibrancy of life in those historic areas.  Let it be said, the soul of LA is awakening.  It’s happening in the revitalization of the old and the boldness of the new,  including the Broad Museum and Plaza along with new residences and fun places to congregate like Pez Cantina at 400 S. Hope.

No conversation about DTLA is complete without a discussion of the homeless, the lack of affordable housing and the scarcity of owner-occupied buildings vs. rentals.  These are conditions that affect every income level and the complexion of the city.  The housing issue is under constant discussion by the city while the County of Los Angeles as well as the State of California needs to step up and get more involved.  The care of the homeless should not just be left to the City of Los Angeles to figure out.  Drugs, alcoholism and mental illness are conditions for which the County Health Departments must find solutions and provide relief.  Unfortunately it’s the urban locales that bear a disproportionate number of these cases which lead to homelessness.

The Midnight Mission is one of the most active resources for the homeless in DTLA .  They bring together DTLA residents and volunteers for an annual event in The Old Bank District that gets everyone involved in supporting the great work of this 100-year-old  center dedicated to helping the homeless get off the street and become productive citizens.

“Vacant parking lots suck the life out of the city,” was  one of my favorite Hal Bastian observations of the evening.   He’s so right but I never thought about it that way.  Of course this led to one of the other items on the wish list of everyone who cares about DTLA –more green space.  Grand Park has been a tremendous asset but south of that there’s a big need.  I must say, though, that I have a hummingbird feeder on my 8th floor balcony and I’m visited daily by a shimmering green little avian .  When I look out my window and down to the trees on the street  below, I sometimes catch a yellow butterfly flitting among the tree tops .  Just think what we could have if a few more parking lots were turned into parks!  I’m anxiously awaiting what we’ll see when the building across Hill street, which I see out our window,  finishes the pool and community deck. I have high hopes that I’ll be looking out on planters and trees.

Which leads me to what Hal and Brigham shared about the 5,000 new residential units that will all be completed by the end of 2015.  Only 68 of those 5,000 were for-sale units and they were in The Barker Block in the Arts District.  The reason for this disparity, according to Hal, is that lenders are still stinging from the real estate fallout that resulted in so many short sales and foreclosures.  They want to go for occupancy first, which hopefully will be followed by residents being offered the eventual opportunity to buy.

Here are a few more of the good things that we learned:

  • Elysian Park just above DTLA has tennis courts, baseball fields, picnic areas, an awesome view of the city and great hiking trails.  Hal is working on getting a corporate sponsorship for a DASH bus to take downtowners back and forth to this lovely place.  Knowing Hal, he’ll make sure dogs are allowed on the bus, too!
View of Downtown from Elysian Park
  • DTLA is the hub of a multi-billion dollar mass transit system.  Union Station is a pretty impressive confluence of transportation options.
All existing signs will be replaced by new updated wayfinding signs
Union Station: DTLA’s answer to Grand Central…in our own unique way! Photo from DTLA Rising blog

And with all this good news, instead of taking Uber home, I decided to walk and see for myself what the streets of DTLA were like on a relatively “quiet” Thursday night.  Who knew that Bill Nye the Science Guy would bring out a crowd that stretched down Broadway and wound around 7th Street.

The Palace Theater was sparkling and a line of science geeks wound around the block for Bill Nye the Science Guy
The Palace Theater was vibrant and a line of science fans wound around the block for Bill Nye the Science Guy
and the line kept winding






More science geeks.
And still winding








line 1
And the geeks go on and on standing in front of Clifton’s Cafeteria..which is destined to be the long awaited re-opening of an LA landmark. It looks like it  is getting closer














It’s always fun to discover something going on–like Bill Nye the Science Guy–  that you didn’t even know about.  And the gorgeous high ceilings in Clifton’s that were visible by night gave me a peak at what this long-awaited, multi-level restaurant and bar has going for it in the way of a landmark restoration and destination attraction to Broadway.

As I walked I started thinking retail…remembering Hal’s and Brigham’s claims about everything that’s been opening on Broadway including the newest: a Gap Factory Store, and the others that have come along in the past year or so such as Acne Clothing,  Aesop, Tanner Leather Goods, Oak, and Urban Outfitters.  “What else haven’t I noticed?” I wondered.

Urban Outfitters on Broadway and 8th built in the building that was once the Rialto Theater
Urban Outfitters on Broadway and 8th built in the building that was once the Rialto Theater

In the 700 Block of Broadway I came across a project in the works.  The store used to be Rainbow and I actually bought a sundress there for $10 the first summer we lived downtown.  The dress held up pretty well but it looks like some deeper pockets have an even better idea for what they want to do with this space.

The storefront of what was once Rainbow
The storefront of what was once Rainbow
What's going on inside the former Rainbow store
What’s going on inside the former Rainbow store

I have high expectations for what I see happening here .

A block further south on the corner of Broadway and 8th, I noticed some art had gone into the three store fronts along 8th street (but tonight there was paper covering these windows so we’ll have to see what’s next).  Here’s what it looked like on Thursday:

Farago Micro-store concept on 8th Street
Farago micro-store concept on 8th Street

Next to Farago was a new shop and I loved their honesty.  The name is LA EX and the tagline is “The Tiny Flagship Store.”  I will definitely check them out this weekend.

new store
LA EX: The Tiny Flagship Store on 8th at Broadway

In the same series of shops, the guy who used to make keys and repair shoes at The Broadway Exchange has a much nicer storefront now on 8th at Broadway.

A veiw through the open doors of the bus across the street to the new location of the shoe repair and key shop
A view through the open doors of the bus to the new location of the shoe repair and key shop

As I walked past all these examples of what Hal and Brigham talked about, I realized that it’s a unique experience to be living in the midst of so much change.  I’m looking forward to the fist episode of the TV show Hal is working on with Ryan Morris, the producer of the late, great Huell Howser’s TV show about California points of interest.  Hal is the perfect guy to take this on–especially with all the new material that DTLA is giving us.  Watch for “What’s Up Downtown? with Hal Bastian.”

I look forward to keeping up with all of Brigham Yen’s posts about what he’s hearing around town and hopefully continuing to discover one or two of my own.

We’re here for a reason and the only reason I can think of is to make this world a better place.  Thank you Hal and Brigham for your passion, drive and commitment to this city we call home.





KNBC’s Kate Larsen shares the story of Nick’s USC Scholarship Fund

Scholarship Fund Established to Honor Lightning Strike Victim | NBC Southern California.

KNBC TV reporter, Kate Larsen, and her cameraman visited us in our loft today to shoot a segment for the evening news.  Kate shares how Nick’s USC scholarship fund at the Price School of Public Policy will  provide financial assistance to a transfer student who reflects Nick’s character, perseverance,  and the desire to improve  a community.

We were honored that Kate chose to do this follow-up story just a little over four months since Nick was killed by the lightning storm on Venice Beach.   We hope to see Nick’s scholarship fund continue to grow and allow more students to follow in the footsteps of Nick’s dream to attend USC’s Price School and then give back through being involved in the revitalization of the Downtown Los Angeles community.