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!
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.”
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!
I was thrilled when Mary Hawley and Julie Grist, the founders of the Larchmont Buzz, asked if I’d like to write a column about what it’s like to live in Downtown Los Angeles. My first column debuted yesterday. If you haven’t read it yet, check in out. Would love to answer your questions about where to go and what to do downtown and please feel free to give me your requests for future columns.
I visited USC today. It was the first time I’ve been on the campus since Nick and I went for his orientation day. I sat in the lecture hall that he would’ve sat in–Room 101 in Lewis Hall, the main building for The Price School of Public Policy. I attended a guest speaker session with Councilmember José Huizar where he talked about the re-imagining of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA).
I thought about what Nick would be processing as he heard Councilmember Huizar speak and I thought about what would excite Nick most about all the projects in the works in Council District 14 that encompasses all of downtown.
I thought about Laura and her husband Ken, recently married 30-somethings who have made their first home investment in a loft in the historic Rowan Building on Spring Street. I thought about how this could have been Nick’s path in 10 years.
I wondered what Nick would’ve been thinking as he heard Huizar describe the downtown revitalization as a process of “building a city within a city” since Los Angeles itself is so vast and the downtown area is so concentrated. I thought about why Nick loved downtown and it made me realize that, if this is all done the right way, it’s about breathing life into the soul of our city and bringing it back to the vibrancy it once had… if only that could be done with our loved ones no longer with us.
Things have already started changing . The photo here was taken from our loft window looking out on 9th & Broadway. Nick never got to see this. I know he’d be proud. I can hear him saying, “See, I told you it was just going to keep getting better!” I particularly like this photo because it shows 3 great things all in one frame:
1) A bike lane
2) Tables & umbrellas for people to sit outside and connect to the city life
3) A city worker taking great care of the area –they are around all day, God bless them!
The umbrellas and tables stretch all the way north on Broadway and they’re part of Huizar’s “Bringing Back Broadway” initiative with the intent to create public spaces and construct a streetcar rail to go all the way to 1st Street where there will be a new park. There are plans to open the old theaters on Broadway as entertainment venues, attract new retailers and restaurants and convert unused upper floors of the beautiful old Broadway buildings to creative office or residential space.
And just a quarter mile away, AEG renewed their interest last week in building an NFL Stadium near Staples Center which would bring additional revenue to downtown. The overall idea is to create a city experience like New York, Chicago, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco or Seattle where people want to walk and are offered lots of reasons to traverse the city on foot discovering the flavors and nuances of different neighborhoods.
DTLA has already established its neighborhoods with The Fashion District, The Historic Core, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, The Arts District, The Bank District, South Park and even Bunker Hill where there are plans are to create a more walking-friendly route between that corridor and Disney Hall, The Music Center and the museums.
Amidst all this talk of transformation there’s also concern for the homeless and the issue of the density of the homeless population that is centered downtown. I attended a homeless solutions panel that Huizar pulled together last Monday which opened up the dialog. It also made it apparent that there are as many different perspectives on the situation as there are problems and potential solutions. Humanizing homeless individuals seems to be one very important step rather than looking at them as one collective mass all with the same problems. Nick was quite good with his outreach to homeless people –he didn’t just put a dollar in their cup — he’d buy them a water or a snack and he’d actually talk to them.
As I write this on the eve of (hopefully) signing the final escrow papers to be a home/loft owner downtown in the historic Eastern Columbia Building, I feel a passion for what DTLA has the potential to become. I know a part of me feels this way because downtown’s transformation meant something special to Nick. It’s why we decided to have Nick’s final resting place in the beautiful mausoleum in the lower level of The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Temple Street. While the Cathedral is quite modern, the mausoleum has the exquisite stained glass windows from the original St. Vibiana’s Cathedral. Each window is backlit and because they’re installed at floor level the beauty of each window’s story can be appreciated without having to look high above or wait for the sun to be in just the right spot. Our family’s permanent memorial is secured in the marble room where the window depicts the young Jesus, in a white tunic with gold sparkles, sharing wisdom with the elders.
Wisdom is the gift the young Solomon asked for in 1 Kings 3: 1-15. Wisdom is what we hope for among those who are shaping the future of our city. Kindness–a trait that was so much a part of who Nick was– is what we hope will spread across all cultures, beliefs and income levels for all who call this City of the Angels our home.
First you need to click on the door above and follow me to a place in Downtown Los Angeles where an ancient art form produces modern ceramics. After you watch the video, be sure to come right back–there’s more to see and hear.
Such as what the artist has to say when you click on his photo (but then come back again…there’s more!):
Robert Siegel Studio Handmade is part of the magic that is DTLA. Thanks, Robert, for making your art in my neighborhood! Great meeting you at Unique-You told your story so well. My blogging job is done for today.
Robert Siegel Studio is located at 3430 S Hill St. #105 DTLA Phone: 310.779.9577
As Southern Californians, let’s all tip our hats to California Chrome who might just show the world that a horse from the town of the stinky cows has a chance at being the first California horse EVER to win the U.S. Triple Crown! California Chrome’s win at the Kentucky Derby on May 3rd made him the only California horse to take the Kentucky Derby since 1962 –and the others were all the way back in 1955 and 1922. California Chrome’s next race is the 139th Preakness Stakes on May 17th which will be the 6th race in his 5 race winning streak.
Did I say, “Tip our hats?” What image better says “Race Day” than an undulation of remarkable hats? Yes–it’s time to celebrate with a hat! So to honor California Chrome’s Derby win and his prospects for the future, I headed straight to CLADE, Maya Reynolds’ downtown menswear store at 600 S. Spring Street, knowing that Los Angeles milliner extraordinaire (Azita) Ariane Azarpira would be there this past Thursday night during the monthly Downtown Art Walk. (Yes I know, it’s Saturday and I’m a day late on my Friday post!)
Owner/ designer Maya is a big collector/ wearer of Ariane’s hats and she introduced a men’s hat line to compliment her expressive menswear collections for clients that include musicians, artists, actors and others who don’t have to conform to tradition. And now Maya has added a few women’s pieces into her shop, which is akin to a Victorian- era closet on steroids. Happily, I discovered that Ariane brought all her new spring/ summer women’s hat creations to CLADE for Art Walk night. With wine to sip and cheese to nibble on–the men make quick decisions while the women turn the minutes into hours of exploring their alter-egos.
I think there’s something about a hat that makes a statement about the mood of its wearer, festive, intellectual, sporty, brooding, whimsical, hip, mysterious, edgy, or, in some cases, just plain goofy. Sometimes you’ll hear someone say, “I just don’t look good in hats.” I think the truth of the matter is you have to be willing to explore your personality with no preconceived ideas. While California Chrome pursues the Triple Crown, I invite you to sip a mint julep read California Chrome’s Wikipedia story to find out what DAP really means on the silks of California Chrome’sjockey, Victor Espinoza–and pursue your own crowning moment with a new summer hat!
And for the first 25 people that:
1) Comment below by telling me what hat you think I bought and which other one you think I should buy AND 2) You’ve subscribed to my blog
You’ll be invited to a hat party at our Downtown L.A. loft with Ariane to personally find the perfect hat for you! The choices are (these are just a few of the many that Ariane has created):
1) The Diane Keaton
2) The Wild West
3) The Purple Velvet
4) The Multi-Stripe
5) The Summer Floppy
6) The Hand Painted Floral
7) Ariane and me with a white Panama fedora
Hats are like friends–you make an instant connection…and you rarely have just one! Be one of the lucky ones to come to our hat party with the gorgeous, gracious and amazingly talented Ariane who will help you find that perfect hat for your personal summertime style-and she’ll show you just how to wear it, too! So let me know your favorites and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get on the invite list.
If you wandered past 9th & Hill on Saturday night this is what you would have seen: people working late unpacking boxes–one labeled “bicycle,” others of mysterious sizes scattered across the concrete floor. There was a single, white, wooden chair on a plywood pedestal and, in the background, a brand new white Volvo SUV.
If you walked past the same location on Sunday afternoon, a team was deep in conference at a long table with two small black dogs at their feet. Most of the boxes were unpacked and the windows were dressed with an even more random, yet increasingly intriguing, assortment of items.
There were children’s tailored shirts and a men’s shirt winking from a craft-brown box with “Schnayderman’s” scripted as the label. Really? A shirt in it’s very own box?
And what about those snow white chairs and the orange-handled branch pruners laying on display? Is it a prop shop? Is it a museum?
Apparently it’s the latest iteration from Carlström & Company|C&CO, described on their website as a growth consultancy and business incubator headquartered in New York. The website describes C&CO’s services as “Bridging the gap between a management consultancy and an advertising agency.” Clients listed include Absolut Vodka, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Estee’ Lauder and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) as well as advertising agencies.
What they appear to be doing in this space is fulfilling their plans of establishing a Nordic design and innovation showroom in Downtown Los Angeles. I love these guys!
In C&CO’s other role, as stated on their website, they function as an incubator and invest time and/or capital in new ventures, of which Schnayderman’s Shirtmakers is one–having brought the brand from Scandinavia to the U.S. in the fall of 2013.
According to C&CO’s website, the company’s founder, Fredrik Carlström, is a marketing veteran with almost two decades of experience advising companies including IKEA, H&M, Electrolux, and L’Oréal, to name a few. Carlström was the CEO & Executive Creative Director of the U.S. operations for the digital agency, Great Works, which was named by AdWeek as the 2010 Agency of the Year.
Looks like this creative space is C&CO’s new base for helping Scandinavian companies get established and grow their presence in the U.S. Hence the orange-handled reminder of what the Swedes have made a household requirement: If it’s a scissors (or rose pruner…when I had roses to prune) it’s got to be Fiskars!
With Stockholm-based Acne Studios and il Caffé just a block away, and H & M soon to open at Fig & 7th, we might call it the Swedish Awakening in L.A. And just think about it, not only is DTLA one of the most creative emerging urban locales, we also get 8-9 hours of nighttime 365 days a year… and no snow! Now there’s another good reason to choose our city as the perfect place to innovate and incubate! And since I’m pretty sure Camilla and Anna, our Swedish au pairs whom we haven’t seen in nearly 19 and 18 years respectively, are probably reading this–it’s time for you both to come back for a visit– you can actually have a really great time in downtown now!
1,400 steps and it felt great! Well, maybe not every floor–there were a few pauses to catch my breath, let my ears pop and drink some water that volunteers were handing out. The pauses were also to remind myself that pushing one’s limits is a good thing but going past them could defeat the purpose. My time was 19:28 and I finished 15th in my division of women 50-59. Training was key–both doing the stairs in my building twice a week as well as one-hour workouts on Wednesdays and Saturdays, whenever possible, with trainer Bayo who NEVER lets Jay or me get through a session without pain as well as some good laughs. And beyond my physical accomplishment I was so incredibly motivated by the donations from friends and family that raised over $850 for the American Lung Association to help save lives.
I think I’m going for something a little less strenuous. I like the sound of A 5K with Heart. It’s a dog-friendly Run/Walk race in downtown L.A. on Sunday, April 13th that will benefit California Hospital Medical Center. I’m looking forward to a brisk spring stroll that Jay, Coco and I can all do together with our downtown neighbors and visitors. The route is a loop that starts in front of the hospital at 1401 S. Grand Avenue, traveling along Grand Ave., 11th Street and Figueroa Street between 7th Street and Venice Boulevards.
The goal of the race is to raise funds for, and awareness of, California Hospital Medical Center which has been serving the needs of downtown Los Angeles since 1887…more on the value of the hospital in a separate post. Heart of the City 5K participants, through support from their friends and colleagues will be contributing to two priority projects: the acquisition of a state-of-the-art 128-slice CT scanner for faster, more detailed imaging with less radiation exposure, and the renovation of the 9th floor of the patient care tower which, according to the hospital website, will maximize comfort and convenience and create a more healing environment.
So if you’re in the mood to enjoy the streets of downtown L.A. with two and four-legged ambulators see you on Sunday April 13th!
1) I’m not a runner and I’ve always envied people who train for marathons. I think this is something I might be able to train for.
2) The climb is April 5th. So far I’ve made it up the 13 flights of our building twice a day this past week. Tonight I did it two times back to back so I’m thinking maybe 63 flights is actually remotely possible.
3) If you make it to the top of the AON Center building, you’re outside on the roof of one of the tallest buildings in DT LA. When else are your going to have the opportunity to do that!?
4) It’s a fund-raiser for the American Lung Association.
So this is my goal– if by March 20th I can make it up the stairs of our building 4 x in a row, I’m signing up! If anyone wants to join me, let me know. And if indeed I do make this commitment I’ll post the link if you want to donate a dime or a dollar per flight.