Residential Revival of Downtown Gets Big Boost with Plans for Ralphs Market
$220 million 7.2 acre residential project to get first Downtown full-service grocery store, at 9th and Flower. Construction may begin in July.
There has been a ground swell of loft conversions in Downtown over the last few years, but the hopes to make a true residential community of its commercial streets have been thwarted by the absence of a key ingredient: someplace to buy groceries. Now the CIM Group, famed for their role in renovating Old Town Pasadena and the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, have concluded agreements to renovate a 7.2 acre section running from 8th to 9th Streets and from Hope to Flower in the heart of Downtown, and they have included a Ralphs market as part of the project.
CIM Group says the market should open within two years. The Los Angeles Times reported December 19: "The project is seen as a pivotal link in the renovation of downtown L.A., helping bridge the gap between the financial district and Staples Center. It will cover parts of three blocks and include 1,171 apartments and condominiums slated to be built over the next several years at a cost of about $220 million."
The first stage of the massive project is the renovation of the Gas Company Lofts, four abandoned office buildings on Flower Street designed by some of Los Angeles' most famous architects. These will be converted to 251 apartments plus street-level stores. The buildings, erected in 1925, were once the headquarters of Southern California Gas Co. They are scheduled to be completed in fall 2003.
Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency deputy administrator Donald Spivack was quoted by the Times as saying that having a Ralphs "will be a key element in achieving the goal of creating a 24-hour, mixed-use community downtown."
The Times' article added: "CIM's residential blueprint revolves around the original gas company building -- a 13-story tower designed in the Romanesque Revival style by John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson, a father-son team of Los Angeles architects who created such landmarks as City Hall, Union Station and the Bullocks-Wilshire department store. Workers converting the structure are preserving 75-year-old details that include a mother-of-pearl mosaic in the lobby and brass elevators."
The three later buildings went up in 1941, 1952 and 1959. They were designed by Robert V. Derrah, who also designed the nautical-themed Coca Cola plant in Los Angeles and the Crossroads of the World retail complex in Hollywood, and by Albert C. Martin & Associates, who also worked on City Hall and the May Co. store on Wilshire Boulevard.
Twenty percent of the apartments in the CIM development will be offered at reduced rent to low-income tenants. Financing was set up for CIM by the CalPERS and CalSTRS pension funds.
Stores slated to go into the ground floor of the CIM project include Blockbuster Video, and the International House of Pancakes.
For more information see the press release at the CIM Group website: