One of the most important projects currently underway in Downtown Los Angeles is the renovation of the erstwhile Macy's Plaza fortress into an open-air mixed-use complex known as the Bloc. This process began when the Ratkovich Company submitted an unsolicited offer to purchase the shopping center from the previous owner, local office landlord Jamison Services. Within months, the transformation was already underway. One of the myriad benefits of adaptive reuse projects is that they can operate on much shorter timelines.
One-by-one, the Bloc's previous tenants have closed their doors. The only stores which remain open today from the original Macy's Plaza are Macy's, LA Fitness, and a US Post office at the corner of 7th and Hope. All of this will soon change.
One qualifier for all subsequent information: plans and dates are subject to change.
The Sheraton hotel has already completed most of its renovations. Each room has been completely redone, and the remodeled Art Deco lobby opened last month. The District DTLA, an amazing restaurant on the Bloc's lower lever (henceforth called “The Square”) has been complete since mid-July, but could not open until the lobby was completed. The Sheraton has also converted an empty rooftop on the third level between the main building and the parking garage into a lounge area with multiple cabanas.
In order to finish gutting the retail space, the post office and LA Fitness must move to their new locations on Flower Street. The post office will occupy the street front closest to the parking garage entrance, while the gym's front door will be located immediately north. The gym will occupy a total of 28,000 square feet of floor area, a significant upgrade from the approximately 10,000-square-foot space it had before. Approximately 10,000 square feet of the fitness center will be located on the Square level, with the remaining area situated one level below in former garage space. Construction is underway and new gym and post office are expected to open in the first quarter of 2016
Ratkovich intends to open the remaining portions of the Bloc in sections. The street-level portion - where Express, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Victoria's Secret were previously located – will be ready by the end of the year. This entire floor is expected to be entirely retail, although plans are still subject to change. Wingtip - a luxury men's clothing retailer - will occupy a two-story flagship store on the corner of 7th and Flower Streets. A bike share station is expected to be located immediately outside of Wingtip on 7th street.
The next section scheduled to open will be “The Square,” a sunken open-air space providing a mixture of shops and restaurants. The location of the former food court - and the notorious Carl’s Junior with liquor - was the first part to undergo renovation. This section, which is almost complete, is where Macy's will have its furniture and home supplies section. Free Market, a 10,000-square-foot store that will sell independent home goods and clothing, will be open on the Flower Street side of the Square. By the end of this year this will be ready for tenant improvements with hopefully a complete opening by the first half of 2016.
Starbucks Evenings - a 24-hour establishment which can serve wine after 4:00 pm - will be located underneath the 7th Street staircase. The entrance to the District DTLA is located directly across from Starbucks, although the area is currently sealed off until construction is complete for the Square. This is also the location of the soon-to-be completed tunnel into the busy 7th Street/Metro Center Station. So if you live south of 7th street and patronize the Metro, you will become quite well acquainted with this Starbucks.
The next area scheduled to open will be a series of second-floor restaurants along Hope Street. Eateries will all feature windows looking out upon both the Square and the streetscape to the east (Assuming this is what the tenants still want). Davios Steakhouse will be located on the northern side of the building overlooking 7th Street. Continuing down Hope Street towards 8th Street, there will be several other food options.
The final section of the project scheduled to open is the highly-anticipated Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Part of the theater multiplex will be built in a new building located between the parking garage and the 700 Flower office building. Current plans call for the bar portion of the theater to be located on the second floor of the Flower Street side of the Bloc.
There will be two locations providing valet service for those arriving by car. One will be located on 7th Street, directly in front of the Bloc. The second valet station will be located in the parking garage, dropping patrons off in the middle of The Square. Ratkovich plans for the Bloc walkways to be open 24 hours daily. An electronic art display is also planned above the sunken courtyard. More details about this component of the project may be provided at a later date.
The 33-story office tower is also undergoing a significant renovation. The main entrance to the building will be moved to the courtyard portion of the Bloc. An elevator has recently been repurposed for only dogs. Ratkovich also plans to rise one of the elevators to provide direct access to a rooftop deck. This deck will include a dog walk, outdoor meeting space, and exercise areas. Due to some structural issues the current plan is being redesigned and will open in the second half of 2016.
To hear more about the Bloc, please check out this week's This Is the City podcast, featuring an appearance from Ratkovich Company COO Clare De Briere.
This post was co-authored by Josh Albrektson, a practicing neuroradiologist and DTLA resident.
- The Bloc Downtown (Official Website)