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Pardon Downtown's Dust

Los Angeles

Downtown LA is one of the most exciting, vibrant places to be. (Ten years ago, saying that would get you gonged.) To help you keep up, we've put together an all-star lineup for Bisnow's fourth-annual Evolution of Downtown, May 16 at the JW Marriott LA LIVE.

Our panel includes Brookfield Office Properties SVP-Western Region Bert Dezzutti, who tells us companies are modestly growing their headcounts, even as they use space more efficiently. Office leasing-wise, the company posted a very active Q1 for its seven-property Downtown office portfolio. Most encouraging, he says, is that "much of the activity came from outside the market."

Tenants new to the area include: CoStar's 17k deal at 777 Tower (above), in a relo from Westwood; Bank Leumi USA's 13k SF at Gas Company Tower; and Greenland US Consulting's 10k SF at 777, where it'll oversee its adjacent $1B Metropolis development. Bert tells us Brookfield will be announcing more significant transactions as well. He's beginning to see other types of businesses such as the creative industries consider Downtown as a locational alternative. (It'll be harder to create pastoral, impressionist paintings, but somehow we think creative types will adjust.)

Another of our panelists, The Ratkovich Co's Wayne Ratkovich, tells us the big news is that the transformation of Macy's Plaza into The Bloc is underway. "The hotel is being remodeling as we speak," and demolition of the other parts has started. The mixed-use retail, hotel, and office complex spans a full city block bounded by Seventh, Eighth, Hope, and Flower streets.

The project (looking in from Seventh Street) includes removing the roof over the former pedestrian-unfriendly, fortress-like Macy's Plaza to create an open-air, multi-level public space. Along with a renovated Sheraton hotel, Macy's department store and 33-story office tower, The Bloc will boast a slew of shops and restaurants. We couldn't get Wayne to divulge names, but the company will be announcing several new tenants that "we're sure the City will be pleased to have." (He must be reading our Pinterest board.)

By now, most of you know that EVOQ Properties hired Houlihan Lokey and Eastdil Secured to explore "strategic alternatives," and has sold some properties outside its focus. However, there's still plenty happening at the company's huge flagship complex, Alameda Square. CEO Martin Caverly tells us the the 1.4M SF campus will offer more ground-floor retail than originally planned.

The company recently signed a lease for a Splendid and Ella Moss retail store. In addition, boutique coffee/bakery operator Cafe Dulce, which has a shop in Little Tokyo, is opening at Alameda Square. EVOQ focuses on fashion apparel, and Martin's seeing tenants from outside Downtown and outside LA coming to look at the campus. Example: GoJane, an online retailer owned by Aeropostale, moved its corporate HQ from Ontario. Also, HauteLook, a members-only flash sale retailer owned by Nordstrom, leased space for a photo studio.

One of the Downtown skyline's most iconic buildings, the US Bank Tower, will be keeping its name. Last month, OUE announced that its Americas subsidiary, headed by president Richard Stockton, signed a 10-year renewal with the bank for 105k SF of office and retail space. Richard, who also will be speaking at our event, says that retaining US Bank as the tower's anchor tenant was a "key objective." The lease, which includes an option to extend for an additional decade, was one of 13 new and renewal deals totaling 172k SF since OUE acquired the building last June. Join us for Bisnow's fourth-annual Evolution of Downtown Summit, May 16 at the JW Marriott LA LIVE.