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One Santa Fe Development Concerns Arts District Residents

Dale Chong |
February 20, 2014 | 12:24 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

In the heart of downtown Los Angeles lies the neighborhood known as the Arts District, a cool and eclectic place that has become popular for local businesses and the younger generation. At the edge of the neighborhood sits the One Santa Fe project, the area’s latest addition. 

The One Santa Fe development is one of the newest residential buildings to join the ranks of downtown Los Angeles. Instead of becoming a high-rise tower, though, it is designed to be incredibly long. Along with providing new residential units, it will be a recreational and shopping center. 

One Santa Fe is currently the largest development to come to the Arts District, measuring to be about a quarter-mile long. According to Curbed Los Angeles, the project will include more than 430 units and 80,000 square feet of retail, along with a park and theater. 

This project announcement has brought attention to the Arts District. Many are concerned One Santa Fe will change the atmosphere of L.A.’s creative neighborhood. Some residents as well as visitors are afraid that this new and large development will commercialize the neighborhood.

Right next door to Little Tokyo, the Arts District has been historically known as the home of many Los Angeles artists, resulting in the name of the area. As the Arts District becomes a more desirable place to live, more artists and young adults moving into the city moved into the neighborhood. 

“There are the hardcore artists who were here before it was cool, before the area became a residential area," said Arts District resident Ryan Stern. "Then there are the artists and younger people who moved here after it was dubbed a popular place." 

According to Stern, many people choose to live in the Arts District because of its location. Since the neighborhood is just next to the heart of L.A., it gives its residents a sense of being “urbanites.” The Arts District is also conveniently close to a Metro station on the Gold Line, making it an accessible place. 

“The area is safe enough, social enough, and there’s enough hustle with an element of predictability,” said Stern. Stern also said many people enjoy that the area is quiet and feel that the growing popularity might ruin that. The Arts District carries an unfinished, old charm to it that some residents do not want to change. 

With the addition of the One Santa Fe project in the Arts District, many residents are skeptical that the Arts District will no longer be able to hold the quiet and creative reputation it had before. 

The Arts District has been recognized for its number of locally owned businesses and restaurants. One Santa Fe anticipates a large number of retail stores, making Arts Districts lovers concerned that the area will become too materialistic.

As an area that has attracted small and local businesses, many worry that franchises will fill the spots at One Santa Fe, creating an entirely different feel to the Arts District. Since the spaces at the development will need to be rented out, any commercial business has the possibility to take a place in the Arts District.

“An NEA grant and funding from the city and the Actor’s fund will support somewhere between 66 and 88 units of low-income artists housing at the One Santa Fe Development," said Jonathan Jerald, secretary of the Los Angeles Downtown Arts District Space. "That will help us keep young, working artists in the community. That’s important in preserving the area as a true arts district."

However, others believe that the development will bring new business to the Arts District. As a project designed to expand the community of the Arts District, the One Santa Fe project is expected to allow younger residents affordable places to live and more job opportunities with all of the spaces for retail. 

“It could be developed and people need to sell the space," said Matthew Heffner, owner of The Pie Hole, a local restaurant. "It could be a bad thing, but it could also bring a lot of unique shops to the area."

Ideally, the One Santa Fe Development will have a market similar to Trader Joe’s, an art gallery or two, as well as a music venue, according to Jerald. One Santa Fe could make the Arts District livelier as it brings in more business and visitors, making it an area similar to shopping centers around L.A. The project will certainly bring more attention and money to the area, whether it stays true to the calm and collected environment of the Arts District or turns out to be flashy. 

“I have a lot of hope that everything will sort itself out," said Stern. "Maybe I’m an optimist, but I also like to think that these people know what they’re doing with this development."

Check out more Arts District stories here.

This story is part of a Neon Tommy special on the revitalization of downtown Los Angeles. Click #reviveDTLA for more.

Contact Executive Producer Dale Chong here.



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