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Big Dreams for the North End of Broadway

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011, at 12:24PM
Eric Richardson

Christian Frizzel's Redwood Bar is only the beginning of the big plans that aim to revitalize the North end of Broadway.

Four years ago, Christian Frizzell took over the Redwood Bar, a sleepy watering hole that had been best known for its direct phone connection with the newsroom of the neighboring Los Angeles Times. He has since transformed the venue into a roots rock and nightlife refuge, but he sees much bigger prospects for the north end of Broadway.

Frizzell is part of the team putting together early plans that would create a nine venue destination in three buildings on the north end of the Broadway corridor. They’ve been working on the concept for the last year and are now looking to the Downtown public for feedback and support.

“I see a big future for this part of Downtown,” Frizzell said earlier this week. “It’s a business center, but it’s untapped right now.” He sees the corner of 2nd and Broadway as a hub for Downtown, perfectly located between the Historic Core, Little Tokyo, Bunker Hill and the Civic Center.

Tying it all together? Trains. The Regional Connector, the Westside Subway and the L.A. Streetcar are all important pieces of the puzzle for Frizzell. “It really wasn’t a viable project project until the trains came online. That’s kind of what we’re betting on.”

Joining Frizzell on the project are partner Jon Tamkin, building owner Avi Florentine and land use consultants Kiyoshi Graves and Andrew Montealegre. They’re proposing to entitle nine spaces in what they are calling the “Broadway Gateway Building.”

Ideas for the spaces include a noodle shop, 24-hour diner, coffee shop, Italian restaurant and deli, a production studio and both basement and rooftop clubs. The partners want to leave plenty of wiggle room for good ideas. “Hopefully someone will come in and they’ll surprise everyone,” Frizzell said.

First, though, the partners have to get the concept past the planning department. They’re hoping to receive a “master conditional use” to entitle all nine spaces at once as they search for operators. It’s a tool that has been used before in Downtown’s revitalization, but one that has fallen out of city favor in the last year.

“The entitlement is the first of many steps,” Frizzell noted. “If the city’s willing to help, the money’s there, the concept’s there.”

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