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Faces of Downtown - Jessica Needleman

By Jeannine Denholm
Published: Monday, December 01, 2008, at 05:10PM
Jessica with Telescope Ed Fuentes

After a brief six-month hiatus, Faces of Downtown is back. In this installment we meet Jessica Needleman. If her name sounds familiar, it should. Her father is one of the pioneers of Downtown development, and has restored the Orpheum Theatre and Orpheum Lofts along with several other office buildings. He is also a huge supporter of the “Bringing Back Broadway” initiative.

A resident of Downtown for more than 5 years, Needleman has a unique perspective of what it’s like to both manage and live in a historic building.

Why do you live Downtown?

There are many reasons I live downtown, a few are... the vibrant and active community, the very short commute to work (two elevator rides and approx. 25 feet), and living in a beautiful historic building.

Why do you think your family has been so successful transforming many of Downtown's historic buildings?

My family is successful because we work hard to preserve the history of these buildings. Recently, while renovating a lobby, we removed the drop ceiling and found murals on the the walls that had been covered for many years. It is exciting to see how downtown is changing and I am excited to see what the future will bring.

What upcoming project are you most excited about?

Right now I am in search of the perfect yogurt place to put into one of our retail spaces. Finding new tenants to cater to the growing residential community is very exciting. I am also very exited that our new recycling program at The Orpheum Lofts has been so successful.

What do you feel is the biggest misconception about Downtown?

I feel that the biggest misconception about downtown is that it is not safe. Where is it safe? I am always asked if I am scared to live downtown. I have been living downtown for almost five years, there are definitely places that I will not walk to by myself but it is no different than any other metropolitan city.

How or will that ever change?

As more and more people are walking around at night going to dinner, going to bars, and going to the market it seems that people feel safer and more comfortable in this environment.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

I am lucky to have three great restaurants just downstairs, Sip Tea, Woodspoon & L'Angolo. If those are closed I walk over to Little Tokyo to a restaurant called Koraku and get a bowl of ramen.

What is your favorite local late night spot?

Again I go to the Broadway Bar often because it is just downstairs, but I am also a big fan of the Doheny.

What do you think Downtown still needs?

I think Downtown could benefit from more community events such as the Art Walk. More and more people are coming downtown to see and participate in these local events and they are able to imagine what it could be like to live and work in the same area.

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