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Developers Propose Food Hall, Rooftop Restaurant in Fashion District

All Part of Larger Proposed 250,000-SF Creative Office Development
February 7, 2018

Developers submitted this rendering of the Norton Building to the L.A. Planning Commission.
Credit: Urban Offerings

A new food hall and rooftop restaurant may be headed to downtown Los Angeles’ Fashion District.

West L.A. developer Urban Offerings and its Beverly Hills partner ESI Ventures are seeking approval from the Los Angeles Planning Commission tomorrow to open an eight-vendor food hall and rooftop restaurant with outdoor dining as part of its proposed 250,000-square-foot, creative office campus at Seventh and Main streets downtown.

The proposal suggests creating a 27,000-square-foot, nine-restaurant dining hub that would include a food hall, other restaurants and a rooftop eatery at the Norton Building, an 80,000-square-foot, century-old building at 755 S. Los Angeles St., according to documents developers submitted to the Planning Commission. The rooftop restaurant would add about 7,000 square feet of floor area to the building.

They are also seeking approval for plans announced last year to convert the second through fifth floors into 60,000 square feet of creative office space.

Lorena Tomb, chief executive of retail consultancy with UrbanLime Real Estate, has toured the property with the developers before. She said she believes the project has potential as long as the developers consider the competition nearby.

"The rooftop restaurant is a brilliant idea; there aren't enough of them," she said. "For the food hall, they would need to make it unique in order for it to be successful. You have a number of food halls nearby" such as Grand Central Market and Corporation Food Hall, only two blocks away.

The project would be part of a wave of improvements coming to the Fashion District, spawned largely by Brookfield Office Properties and Jamison Properties’ renovation of the 1.8 million-square-foot California Market Center nearby.

Derrick Moore, a principal at Avison Young Inc. who specializes in retail, said it would be a welcome addition.

"We are going to see a lot of changes in that district," he said. "It’s one of a few districts that have been overlooked in the downtown renaissance. There’s a lot of infusions of cash and great creative ideas amongst some of our most creative people in fashion and in food who will now become tenants and residents in that districts. I think we can expect big things."

The proposal reveals some of first details of the initial phase of Urban Offerings’ renovation project that is expected to transform two historic buildings - the Norton Building and the former Deardens department store building at 700 S. Main St. next door - into a creative office campus.

Urban Offerings and ESI disclosed plans to convert the Norton Building into creative offices last year. Those plans expanded to include the adjacent four-story historic Deardens property when the company bought it for $41.6 million, or $864 a square foot, in December.

Last month, the developers announced they had received about $122 million in joint venture equity with Gem Realty Capital Inc. in Chicago as well as non-recourse bridge financing arranged with the help of George Smith Partners and Dekel Capital to proceed on the larger creative office project.

Urban Offerings also owns 734 S. Main St., a five-story, 19,000-square-foot historic retail building on the same block. Plans for that building have not been announced. It is also underway on the development of a 33-story, 452-unit apartment building in the Fashion District at 222 E. Seventh St. with Realm Group.

If the developers’ plan is approved by the Planning Commission tomorrow, it will head to L.A. City Council for final approval. The developers did not return requests for comment.

Jacquelyn Ryan, Los Angeles Market Reporter  CoStar Group   
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