5 Keys to Downtown L.A.’s Revival
“When there’s blood in the streets, buy property, even if the blood is your own.”
Baron Philippe de Rothschild
The recent subprime mortgage disaster in the U.S. and global economic crisis aside – the aftershocks of which still ripple with potency – the term “urban revival” seems ubiquitous. One need look no further than Los Angeles, a vast metropolis that normally defines the essence of sprawl. Lately, however, the focus has been very much on DTLA, a once moribund and lifeless enclave of the city after dark. Many powerful interests now want to change the downtown stereotype – a bunch of new L.A. hotels have broken ground, for one – with some notable perception wins and flashes of success … in spite of formidable odds.
Here are 5 keys to L.A.’s downtown rebirth.
5. Matt Berman
Or to be more specific, dudes like Matt Berman. Here’s what the former corporate exec cum downtown barbershop owner had to say about the urban resurgence in a December 2009 Los Angeles Times exposÃ©:
“I’m a man who thinks the suburbs have been responsible for killing the American spirit and American values. We’re supposed to build these castles and fill them up with our stuff. We move away from the city to isolate ourselves from diversity, to associate only with people who are like us.”
Want to unearth the spirit of urban America’s prolific CBD re-gentrification in recent years? There you have it.
460 S. Spring Street
What was once a last resort, desperate and risky move to transform derelict corners of DTLA – the offer of free rent for two years to art gallery owners – looks genius in hindsight. From dodgy to dap in a decade? You bet. Just check out the monthly Downtown Art Ride and Walk in the new SoHo West.
Pharmaka Art Gallery
101 West 5th Street
3. Staples Center
It seems like a century ago that the Staples Center was built but it was only in 1999. And though it may seem droll to credit a basketball and hockey arena with the facelift refurb of DTLA, Kobe Bryant’s office deserves some props. The Staples Center lures over 4 million people to the downtown core and, without question, benefits from a perennial championship-contender in the Lakers. Look out for the now-hot commodity Clippers too, with young superstar Blake Griffin at the helm of a team with much promise.
1111 South Figueroa Street
2. Frank Gehry
Sometimes it takes a Pritzker Prize laureate from Canada to save the day. Just ask Bilbao. Frank Gehry, starchitect extraordinaire, went through hell to design and build the Walt Disney Concert Hall but the result was instant icon. Star music director Gustavo Dudamel runs the Los Angeles Philharmonic here.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Avenue
1. The Gorbals
When the rock ‘n’ roll cooks, baristas and bartenders take a chance on a castoff part of town (led, no doubt, by the allure of affordable rent), the hipsters soon follow in droves. The Gorbals, a casual, late-night hangout run by Top Chef Season 2 champ Ilan Hall, of all people, serves stellar fare and epitomizes what’s up in now-foodie-centric DTLA.
501 South Spring Street