REAL ESTATE

Things are looking up for Downtown Los Angeles

BY Jennifer Mosscrop

Downtown Los Angeles is in the middle of a profound revitalization, one that is bringing new energy to a sprawling area that had long been written off as a cultural wasteland — and ghost town after 5 p.m. New residential construction has brought an influx of new residents into the area, with retailers and restaurants rushing in to meet the new demands.

“We have a 24/7 population of more than 55,000 that is expected to grow to roughly 77,000 over the next couple of years. With continued momentum, 100,000 residents isn’t too far off and we’ll need all the services, amenities, and retailers to satisfy that growing demand,” Carol Schatz, president and CEO of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DCBID) told Chain Store Age.

This renaissance is catching the attention of investors from around the globe who are committing billions of dollars to some of the largest developments ever in Downtown LA, including some much needed retail space.

“Today’s downtown retail market has never been more robust, with global fashion brands, boutique labels, and national chains alike racing to establish a foothold in the market,” Schatz explained.

Currently, there is 1.8 million sq. ft. of retail under construction and approximately another 1 million sq. ft. in the planning stages, according to Schatz.

“Despite its continued growth, the Downtown retail market’s vacancy rate has dropped to roughly 6%. As more retailers discover the market’s vibrancy, coming opportunities, and thirst for more, Downtown LA will once again be one of the retailing and fashion hubs of the region,” Schatz said.

So what prompted this renaissance?

Schatz attributes the revitalization of Downtown LA to the passing of the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance — which provided financial incentives to upgrade and convert obsolete and vacant office buildings — to mostly residential purposes, and the opening of The Staples Center in 1999.

“With the iconic arena being home to three professional sports teams and numerous special events, Staples Center exposed downtown to thousands of Angelenos who otherwise would never have considered the area as a place to eat, drink or be entertained,” she said.

The passing of the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance solved the long-standing ‘chicken and the egg’ conundrum, Schatz explained. It was responsible for bringing in the initial residential population needed to bring in early restaurateurs and retailers. Since then, Downtown LA has experienced unprecedented growth in attracting residents, as well as the retail and hospitality to cater to them.

Now, the only direction for Downtown LA is up. The City of Los Angeles has put its focus on preparing for the long term, which includes expanding and renovating the convention center; the continued expansion of the Metro, specifically the Expo Line’s extension to Santa Monica and downtown’s Regional Connector, which Schatz said will be game changers for the area.

Also, residents, workers and visitors will soon be able to take a one-seat ride to the beach, Pasadena, Long Beach, and beyond — returning Downtown to its rightful position as the central hub of the city.

“While we’ve succeeded beyond our wildest dreams in creating a thriving, living and breathing heart of the city, you cannot help but be taken aback by the enormity of the opportunities that still exist here,” Schatz said.

Get a closer look at what Downtown LA has to offer at the ‘DTLA: The Future of Urban Retail’ conference on Nov. 5, hosted by the DCBID. The full-day conference will feature retail industry leaders who will shed light on Downtown LA’s current retail developments and the upcoming opportunities in all corners of the burgeoning market; a restaurateurs panel and VIP luncheon; a guided bus tour of Downtown’s distinctive retail districts; and will conclude with a VIP cocktail reception.

Click here to register for the event.

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REAL ESTATE

Retail Design Institute and Chain Store Age announce collaboration

BY CSA STAFF

The Retail Design Institute, the oldest and largest association for design professionals, and Chain Store Age, the leading authority on retail operations and producer of the annual SPECS conference, are partnering on the Institute’s 45th Annual International Store Design Competition.

"Chain Store Age is excited to be entering into this collaboration with the Retail Design Institute," said Gary Esposito, group publisher, Chain Store Age and SPECS chairman. "We believe CSA can play an integral role in helping advance the initiatives of the Institute, particularly by using our media platforms to promote the awards competition.”

Founded in 1961, the Retail Design Institute has been responsible for educating design talent specifically for the highly specialized area of store planning and design.

“The Institute recognizes the broad reach of Chain Store Age and SPECS,” said Retail Design Institute’s International president James Farnell. “We know our members and their firms will benefit from the increased exposure to CSA’s audience, which includes leading retailers and retail real estate developers.”

Under the agreement, the Institute will host its annual awards gala and fundraiser, which benefits the Institute’s student design competition, in Dallas.

“We are thrilled that the Institute has decided to host its awards gala in Dallas on March 12, 2016, the night before the kick-off of CSA's annual SPECS show,” Esposito added. “We believe it will provide an ideal opportunity for members of the Institute to participate in SPECS, which provides great networking and educational opportunities."

The winning entries of the competition will be featured in the April/May 2016 issue of CSA.

“As the industry’s only peer-reviewed design competition,” Farnell said, “our program celebrates exceptional retail experiences across more than 20 categories from full-line department to specialty stores and pop-ups. CSA is the media venue for toasting and sharing the Institute’s winners in print and online.”

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Ikea seeks building permit

BY Marianne Wilson

Ikea wants to open a second store in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The company is submitting plans to the City of Grand Prairie, Texas, for a 293,000-sq.-ft. store. It would be the Swedish company’s fourth location In Texas.

Pending approvals, construction of Ikea Grand Prairie could begin summer 2016, with an opening in fall 2017.

Located approximately 14 miles west of downtown Dallas and 18 miles east of downtown Fort Worth, the proposed Ikea Grand Prairie would be built on 32 acres along the eastern side of State Highway 161 and Mayfield Road, north of Interstate-20.

Store plans reflect the same unique architectural design for which Ikea stores are known worldwide. Ikea also will evaluate potential on-site power generation to complement its current U.S. renewable energy presence at nearly 90% of its U.S. locations.

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