April 27, 2017

Piñata Central

joker balloonGetting ready to throw a birthday party for your DTLA kid? Forget about driving to the mall for party supplies. There are two party districts right here in downtown where you can pick up piñatas, favors and decorations for half of what you’d pay at Party City.
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When CicLAvia is Your Normal

ciclaviaOn Sunday I loaded my son in his bike trailer and pedaled down to Main Street—not so we could ride in CicLAvia but so I could get him to his weekly Aikido lesson. Sure, Sunday’s CicLAvia was one of the biggest public events ever held in Los Angeles, with more than 100,000 people biking over 15 miles of streets closed to car traffic. But our building sits directly on the bike route and six CicLAvias in, it’s not a must-do event anymore. In fact, it’s not really an event for us at all but more something that’s part of the rhythm of our lives downtown.
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Sunday in Dogtown

Nathan in DogtownEven though we’ve been living in downtown LA for the past five years, we are still finding new places to explore. Case in point: Sunday we spent the day in Dogtown. You’re probably scratching your head and asking Dog-what? Turns out this is the unofficial name of the area to the east of Chinatown and Cornfields park and north of Union Station (and nope, this isn’t the Dogtown featured in that skateboarding movie). The neighborhood has been accurately described as both one of Los Angeles’s oldest and most obscure neighborhoods. This was once the site of LA’s first transcontinental railroad depot. Today, it’s still dominated by rail, including the Metro Gold Line Chinatown station and Metrolink trains entering and leaving Union Station.

Even though the area is now mostly known for its really loud concerts, it turns out there are some interesting things for downtowners to check out. We started our Sunday by sitting in on a kids’ class at the Aikido Center of Los Angeles, located at 1211 N. Main Street, just down the street from Nick’s Cafe. From the outside the dojo looks like an ordinary industrial building but you step inside and feel like you’re in Japan.

The Aikido class was great. Three instructors for about 12 kids and they were very serious but respectful of the children. Older kids are partnered with younger kids to help them through the lesson. The whole vibe was very disciplined yet supportive and calm, and the kids were clearly having a great time. I think it’s going to be perfect for my son. And at $65/month, it’s a bargain. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for a sport for your kid that’s close to home in DTLA.

After class we wandered across the street to the William Mead Homes. Even though this is a public housing project, I was struck by how clean and quiet it was. One apartment had an amazing container garden around the front door, complete with two ficus trees! The woman who lives there saw me and my son admiring her flowers and she came out to give him a lollipop. It’s very cool to meet such friendly people in LA.

After letting my son run around the Mead Homes playground, we headed across the street to LAX-C, a Thai supermarket that’s been called the Asian Costco. They cater to the restaurant trade so it’s pretty hit or miss in terms of picking up stuff for your home kitchen. But it’s great for us because my husband has celiac disease and they stock a huge variety of gluten-free flours, including rice flour, tapioca flour and potato starch. They also carry a big selection of curries, fish sauces and everything else you need to make Thai food.

You Know You’re a DTLA Parent When…

Being a parent in downtown Los Angeles isn’t like being a parent anywhere else. We all have those special moments where we realize we’re not exactly raising our kids in Burbank. You know you’re a DTLA parent when…

  • You drop your kid’s blanket on the sidewalk and debate whether to wash it twice with hot water and bleach or just toss it and buy a new one.
  • You have to cancel a trip to the park because of a May Day protest on Broadway.
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Nothin’ Goin’ On But the Rent

REntThe Los Angeles Downtown News recently reported that occupancy rates in DTLA are currently around 98 percent, e.g. essentially full. Rents are climbing as a result—they increased 6 percent last year and are expected to increase as much as 9 percent in 2019. If you’re a downtown renter, expect to get a rent increase as soon as your lease expires.

That got me wondering what prices per square foot are for various downtown neighborhoods and how this compares with areas near downtown that families may consider moving to, such as Silverlake and Echo Park. After a couple of hours browsing through Craigslist apartment listings, I present to you my completely unscientific survey of rental prices**. I’m warning you in advance: it ain’t pretty.
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Spotlight On South Park

ralphs south parkIf there’s any neighborhood in DTLA that can be described as family-friendly, South Park is it. There are two simple reasons why: Ralph’s supermarket and the playground at Grand Hope Park. Readers who are un-childed may wonder what the big deal is. But when you’re raising a toddler in a downtown apartment, being able to walk a couple of blocks to the park or make a quick dash for diapers without a car is a very big deal.

It isn’t just parents who love South Park. The neighborhood was recently named the number one hottest neighborhood in the U.S. and has twice been voted Neighborhood of the Year by Curbed Los Angeles. Building occupancy rates are at an all-time high and young professionals continue to flock to the area, including many who work in DTLA’s financial and fashion districts. Pretty impressive when you consider that South Park essentially didn’t exist as a neighborhood until about ten years ago.
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When Your Kid Needs a Hospital

Last week our family had the experience that no one ever wants to have: my son had an asthma attack and had to be taken to the hospital. It was surreal picking up the phone and dialing 911 knowing my kid needed help RIGHT NOW. Luckily my son recovered quickly and after a night of observation at the hospital, he’s back at school and doing great. But the experience made me grateful we live downtown. Why so?
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(Really) Fresh Chicken

It’s Saturday afternoon, you need to figure out what you’re cooking for dinner and you’re craving some fresh chicken. REALLY fresh chicken. What to do? Hop on the No. 45 Metro bus and check out the live poultry markets in Chinatown.

There are two poultry places on North Broadway: Peking Poultry and Superior Poultry (the poultry is superior because it was clucking just a few minutes before you get there). Peking Poultry has a wider selection of meats, including chicken, duck, rabbit, pork, and fish in tanks, as well as fresh vegetables; Superior Poultry has doesn’t have pork, fish, or veggies, though it does have quail and pheasant. But which one you choose really depends on your level of squeamishness: Peking has you pick out the animal you want for dinner while it’s alive and breathing; Superior hands you an already dead-and-bagged bird. I’m a chicken (har, har) so I prefer Superior myself.
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Spotlight On: The Historic Core

6th Street in the RainDeveloper Tom Gilmore’s first loft building opened on 4th and Main in 2000 and since then, the Historic Core has become ground zero for downtown revitalization. Located between Hill and Main streets on the west and east, and 3rd and 9th street on the north and south, this is the area of downtown that most looks like a “real” city, with converted early 20th century bank buildings looming overhead and street-level retail that includes coffee shops, galleries, vintage stores, and DTLA’s only bookstore. The Historic Core is also home to downtown’s monthly Art Walk and is a nightlife mecca stuffed (some say overstuffed) with bars and clubs. The latest sign that the Historic Core has arrived? Starbucks is opening on 6th and Spring.

What’s great about living in the Historic Core
It used to be that the South Park area close to LA Live was where most downtown families lived, but a recent baby boom is changing the mix. Not too long ago I saw a young mom in yoga pants and a baguette tucked into her bag strolling down the street wearing her infant in a sling. And a group of dads with kiddos in Baby Bjorns regularly hang out at Coffee Bar (what is this, Silverlake?).
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Why we live in DTLA

Alex, Ginny and Iolani Brideau

Ginny Brideau isn’t just a DTLA resident—she’s one of the people who has played a major role in shaping the downtown community. Ginny has served as Historic Core Resident Director and VP of Outreach and Communications for the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) and in her professional life works on regional transit projects, including the Regional Connector, Wilshire Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit, Los Angeles Streetcar, and many others. Currently a resident of the Mozaic apartments at Union Station, here Ginny shares why she, her husband Alex and daughter Iolani call DTLA home.

When did you move to DTLA?
Memorial Day weekend, 2004
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