We have talked about buildings that should be something cool, buildings that have been forgotten, buildings that need to be saved, and buildings that need makeovers–but what about entire neighborhoods or areas of connection: shouldn’t those be a point of concern, too? Yes, of course they should be! Two neighborhoods right now are in the middle of an incredible transformation that we need to prepare ourselves for and stand behind because they are going to help strengthen Los Angeles.
The first neighborhood in question is a little row of blocks on Sunset in between the hullaballoo of Sunset between Vine and La Brea and Sunset between Fairfax and Cory: Sunset between La Brea and Fairfax. The area proper is actually a few blocks in on either end, making the most vibrant or in-need-of-focus part being from Vista to Spaulding on Sunset. The area is seen as nothing, just a passageway between one “cool” end of Hollywood to another “cool” end of Hollywood. The thing with this passageway is that there actually is some history and cool bubblings that are completely not Hollywood gross and worth your time.
Starting with what we have at face value, there are a lot of things going on: there’s a nice Mexican restaurant, a historic and internationally recognized music store, a cool comic book store, a silly sushi place, a bikini boutique, two health food spots, an American tapas and wine spot, a historic Hollywood bookstore, an equally historic Hollywood elementary school, and a Chipotle. These are all of the stand-outs on these blocks, all within fairly nice buildings and each with its own character. The area has not quite reached a point where it has made a cohesive decision on what it is–but it’s close.
What it is hinting at is becoming a strange mix of high-end and low-end, best exemplified in the American Tapas spot Vintage Enoteca and comic book wonderland Meltdown Comics. These two places straddle this line between catering to the nicest people in town, visitors from the Craftsmen houses and hills North of Sunset, and the most middle-of-the-road people in town, those living in the apartments South of Sunset on the smaller streets. Vintage Enoteca marries high end quality food and service for not a lot of money in a fairly tight space, the only restaurant for blocks that we consistently recommend people (and will always recommend over anything on Sunset West of it). Meltdown has become a sort of alternative destination for entertainment, housing some of the biggest comedy shows in the city, which take place in their Nerdist Theater. Do not be surprised to see minor and up-and-coming performers and tastemakers (“tastemakers”) walking the street on Wednesday nights in that area.
What this area is lacking in is some sort of cohesive hub, something that will make it all “make sense.” There is no core or heart to this area, despite there being some contenders like Vintage Enoteca and Meltdown. It has the potential for being this alternative area wedged in the middle of Hollywood, akin to a Franklin Village; however, there needs to be some clearing of some of the sillier spots, better policing of the area, and social gathering points. As it stands now, there is no small hotel that is worth anyone’s time, making it attractive for visitors to stay here.
Moreover, again, it’s in no way cohesive. There is this tension between the old school folks living there, those who are running the Russian book store and little convenience stores; the mega-Hollywood types, those who frequent the ghastly step-sister of the Valley’s gem, Aroma Cafe, and probably rent cars from the Platinum Collision Center down the street; and young to middle aged people who see this area as a very accessible neighborhood, one that has walkable supermarkets, a farmers market, a little wine shop, and more.
So, what does this place need? First, it needs more business people that care to come in and make changes, people that who care about their craft and their craft’s place in the city–not buying into something. We don’t need another Toi or Sushi Kingz or any of the other absurd “Hollywood” eating places. Bring in another Cheebo or even an Ashley Paige: stuff that people worth a damn would potentially want to go to. An apparent very recent good effort that we heard by way of Guest Of A Guest’s Rachelle Hruska’s Instagram is a TBD new coming of Ye Coach And Horses, which–if coming from her–is a big vote of sophistication approaching.
There are also some great little buildings, like the building above, that are just waiting for someone to come and put in a hotel similar to The Ace in Seattle: just one floor of nice little rooms, placed over cute little storefronts.
This building we’ve been eyeing for years, trying to figure out what the hell is going on with it. Half of the storefronts appear to be vacant while the other half appear to be design studios, one belonging to trans-media production studio Signature Creative.The above appears to be a very bleh looking apartment complex that needs some love given to it. This would be the perfect spot to make a quiet extended residence or boutique hotel or something: the building could very easily become the Palihotel of the Sunset and Gardner district.
The only hitch in that plan is that it is across the street from the one hundred year old elementary school that Michael Jackson attended: Gardner St. Elementary School. The lot is full of kids playing during the day and families walking to and from the school. This could throw a hitch in a small little cafe with booze being placed in there; but, it seems that a nice Oaks Gourmet or OK could slide in there without any trouble. There’s also this wonderful conversation the building and the school have with each other that could be taken advantage of quite easily: what if you placed a Scoops here? That would definitely make the area explode.
The area surrounding Sunset and Gardner has a very long way to go before becoming a new “it” spot; however, it is trying and there is potential. This idea is not impossible and, if locals try hard enough, it can happen. We’ll be waiting to applaud when the area does completely clean itself off and mature, wiping the hardened 1970s rock-and-roll trash away from itself to make room for some welcomed sophistication.