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Welcome Aboard: Jeannine Denholm

By Eric Richardson
Published: Saturday, April 19, 2008, at 10:35AM

If you were paying attention you might have seen a new byline slip in last weekend, attached to our story on the Downtown Film Festival. Ed and I are excited to welcome Jeannine Denholm as a new member of the blogdowntown team.

Jeannine's a TV producer, a jewelry designer, and a resident of the Historic Core. By way of introduction, I asked her to answer a handful of questions about Downtown. In her answers Jeannine talks about street noise, the lighting of the skyline and the need for a conversation about how to make Downtown a place people can stay as they raise a family.

ERIC RICHARDSON: You moved Downtown in 2006. What were your expectations coming into Downtown L.A.?

JEANNINE DENHOLM: There was an article in the LA Times Magazine section almost 10 years ago about interesting places to live Downtown. I had only recently moved here so I wasn’t even used to LA let alone Downtown. But I tucked the notion in the back of my head that maybe one day we could find a great historical space and live a much more urban lifestyle. When we did finally move, I was thrilled but knew the transformation would take a lot longer than all the media chatter. I don’t know, I think I see the potential of Downtown rather than what is currently in front of me. When I look at a building that is run down I don’t complain, I get excited about what it will become when someone has the vision to renovate the space.

ER: What other areas had you checked out, and what had you heard about Downtown?

JD: We started looking in West Hollywood, Miracle Mile & Hancock Park but everything we saw in our price range was a boring white box with a cottage cheese stucco ceiling. An editor I worked with lived at the Higgins Building and told me about a few of the developments. I immediately called her realtor and we casually started looking. Truth be told, we weren’t expecting to buy right away. But once we saw our place with all the exposed brick walls, 15 ½ foot ceilings, and huge windows with views of the Eastern Columbia I knew we had found our home.

ER: What's the thing that's most surprised you in the time that you've been here?

JD: The morning street noise. We are pretty high up and sometimes the buses are so loud I can’t even hear the fountain in our bedroom. I am a super light sleeper so it was a bit of a challenge at first but when I think of all the other things I love about living here, it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make. I’ve also been surprised at how the skyline outside our windows is rapidly changing. In a little over two years, the Eastern Columbia clock tower was turned on, The Chapman’s lights were turned on following its renovation, Evo’s lights will soon go on and this summer the AT&T building’s crown will be illuminated. Quite a different picture from the blackness I looked out at before. I’m also shocked by the people that move down here and then complain because it’s not like the Westside. Isn’t that the point of living here?

ER: What's your favorite spot to go grab a meal Downtown?

JD: Hmm. That is a tough one. I would say if I’m going to pick anything, it would be afternoon tea at the Biltmore Hotel. There is nothing more relaxing than spending the entire afternoon lounging around the fountain on those big cushy velvet lobby couches with friends and a glass of Champagne and scones. A quick meal would be LA Café. I love David, Kurt, Lillian and the whole gang over there. And a special meal would be Cicada. It is truly the most spectacular space Downtown. I’m a sucker for Art Deco. Oh…can I include one more? I simply can’t leave out Colori Kitchen. They have the best tiramisu outside of my favorite restaurant in Rome and Joe the manager really takes care of us every time we visit!

ER: What's a project (development, restaurant, bar, your choice) that you're particularly looking forward to seeing open up Downtown?

JD: Definitely “Bringing Back Broadway.” It was so exciting seeing all the theatre owners, city officials and business leaders together with a dynamic vision at their press conference. I know there are a lot of people who fear what the development could bring but I would like to think there is a way to honor the area’s rich history without transforming it into the next 3rd Street promenade.

ER: Your husband, Dave, works for ESPN Radio. Am I correct in guessing that his favorite upcoming development is the L.A. Live complex, where he'll get a new office?

JD: I think he’s actually more excited about the movie theatre and Lucky Strike Bowling. We are from Ohio after all. But yes, it should be fun to walk over and check him out while he’s doing a show from the ESPN Zone.

ER: What are a couple topics that you think have been overlooked in the Downtown conversation?

JD: Childcare and new schools. Right now a lot of people without children are moving here but I think that will change. When we first came we thought we would buy a loft, live Downtown for a few years and then rent out our place and buy a house in the suburbs. But we love it here and want to stay, a fact that will be very difficult if we want children. There’s also a lot of “us” versus “them” talk when it comes to the homeless and other problems. Downtown is now my community and I’m trying really hard to volunteer in different places when I can and contribute more than complaints. If you see something you don’t like, try to make it better.

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