Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bar None

I like the building I live in, more or less. I like the loft itself. The once-planned screening room in the sub-basement was never finished, but who cares. Also planned, once upon a time, was a bar. This was never finished either, which is absolutely tragic.

The P.E. lofties, those lucky bastards, are getting a bar. Hell, they already have a bar in Coles, if it ever re-opens. But besides that, they are getting "The Association", some sort of dark, sexy, sophisticated bar with a private back door for the residents only, so they see how smashed they can get and still work an elevator. It should be open "This Summer". Hopefully they are using a different calendar than Coles, which opens in "May".

Across the street from Coles/Assoc, Cedd Moses and the Santa Fe have won the rights for four boozy restaurants and a "Spaceland style" music club. This has been somewhat delayed, as their Conditional Use application was originally denied. Associate Zoning Administrator Dan Green found that all that clubbing and noshing would make the neighborhood nicer, raise property values, and make this area of Skid Row a little less funky, and we can't have that, can we? Actually, what he said was:

"With a similarly large entitlement at the south at 610 South Main Street, the effect of the two projects may well put this corner "on the map" as the "in" place to be, but at the expense of the City's stated commitment to Skid Row.
"Permitting the sale of alcoholic beverages on the scale requested by the applicant will contribute to the incremental upgrading of the subject building and the image and character of Main Street while also contributing to the incremental dislocation of the Skid Row Community."

Mr Green also mentions a CRA brochure that defines the official borders of Skid Row, gives facts and figures, and references Skid Row's colorful history going back to the 1870's. (Dan Green has a lot more to say, including a suggestion that the restaurants be replaced with a pet food store. Read it for yourself here: Dan Green letter (pdf) )

Unfortunately for those who would preserve our historic 130+ year old Skid Row, the Central Area Planning Commission voted 5-0 to lift the prohibition back in November of last year. (The spanking is here: CAPC spanking pdf. Notice condition #105 for the bar at 110 E. 6th: The sale of distilled spirits by the bottle for same day or future consumption is prohibited. That means No bottle service. Who says the city isn't looking out for the common man? )

I don't think that ground has been broken on any of these boozers yet. We'll probably have to wait for Cedd to finish Coles before he gets into the rock club, so it could be a year or more before it opens.

Charlie O's was shut down for three weeks some two months ago. It's some kind of weird bar owners theory of time. Like one of those dreams where you are trying to run but you are up to your knees in molasses, and then you are at a company staff meeting, but naked.

"You got kicked out of King Eddy's? For what, being too clean?"
-- A Coles bartender, some years ago.

Kind Eddy's is a bit too far to stumble back from, so that leaves just the 626 wine bar, and that's not really a stumbling kind of place. So here I am, surrounded by what would be very handsome bars if they would just open up. And to make my misery complete, I have learned of a bar that was planned, permitted, but never constructed, here in my very own building! But not just any bar, no, this was special...

You see, like most other buildings here in the Bank District, my building was once a Bank. Built to be a bank. And like banks everywhere, it had a vault. The gimmick (I guess every business needs one) was that your safety deposit boxes were protected by really cool 6000lb round vault doors with gears and levers and clockwork that just looked so cool that no one would even try to steal your pre-crash stock certificates (at least not steal with drills and lock picking. The doors did nothing to protect you from theft by fountain pen.) And once upon a time, Andrew Meieran (of The Edison fame) / Marc Smith / 213 ventures planned a "speakeasy style bar" in the basement, with the vault doors as a prominent part of the decor.

The floorplans don't do it justice, but the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back explaining what each one is are here: Bills floorplan pdf

Sweet! The place was originally slated to take up the entire basement, 12,000 square feet. Seven individual lounges, DJ booth, yada yada. Plans were approved, permits issued, everything looked good... But it never happened. Why not? Who knows. Google finds a reference to Andrew Meieran saying it was waiting on the residential construction, or somesuch. Could it still happen sometime in the future? the permits have all expired. Much of the basement has been converted to lofts, but the old part of the building with the vaults is still there, and presumably the vault doors are still there. Perhaps a smaller scale version, encompassing just the vaults themselves and the bar opposite, could still be done. It could be a sweet little watering hole, for those of us who think they can still find their floor after six martinis.

Le Sigh. When all the under-construction-maybe-someday stuff actually opens, I probably won't care very much, but for now I am really frustrated that someone else I've never met didn't risk a ton of money to build a theme bar for my extreme drinking convenience. Word.


Anonymous said...

Too tired to read the entire just moved into Santa Fe Lofts, what gives with the club on 6th and main last night/this a.m.?? until 3 am? We also are over a bus stop and parking lot...feel stupid we should have done more research, but we love our lofe. is this usual? if so we are looking for sound proofing or a new loft to lease, also looking for other families to get to know downtown.

desperate and exhausted

Li said...

Welcome to the neighborhood! There are a surprising number of families with young kids downtown. We are forming a Downtown Parents Group and meeting for the first time this Saturday, July 19. If you're interested, please shoot me a line at li at altvox dott com.

MB said...

Just moved in and already looking for a new place? Wow.

Yes, "I love my loft but WTF did I get in to?" is a normal response when first moving down here.

I'm not sure what club you are referring to, as everything at that corner is closed or under construction. It could have been a loud party, or perhaps filming... My loft faces an airshaft, so it's pretty quiet. If I faced the street, I would definitely keep my windows shut at night.

celia said...

that was a party, not a club. it was in my building, on the floor directly below mine. they have parties like that regularly and although they're pretty cavalier about violating noise ordinances, the police still enforce them.

so the next time that happens, call the cops. LAPD's central division is just down the street and they respond quickly - 213-485-3294.

don't do what i did, which was walk downstairs at 2:30am and try to talk to the guy in charge. if i had just stayed home and called the cops then their security guard wouldn't have manhandled me.

BusTard said...

I am curious if it was round the 04 July weekend that this party occurred, and if it is that yet-to-open space on 6th and Main or 6th and Los Angeles.

In any case, lemme state this to "anonymous" who moved into Santa Fe Lofts: I usta have a publishing office at the Valuta (now SB Lofts or some such silly name) and the common toilets faced the Santa Fe. That Rapid bus stop has been there FOR YEARS. How could you not see it? Perhaps it has to do with the primary windows being permanently closed rather than able to swivel on their vertical axis? I mean, really—if downtown is so bad then perhaps you and yours should move back to west L.A., or the Valley, or Montana.

I have watched too many great cities and the nabes therein—such as LES and The Bowery and Brooklyn and Philly—get bleached by the boring residents newly moved in. Los Angeles is still but a town, and I have some great animosity toward it and especially toward those attempting to tame it. I know what it usta be, and have published quite a bit about it in books and magazines and whatnot. I am indignant that arrested development seems to be desire, especially by those whose mindset is akin to those who abandoned it some decades ago.

Don't like the noise, the malodourous wafts, the pockets of obnoxiousness soon to be sewn together and craft a city—perhaps a city that does not close down at 5 p.m. or so? Neither do I, sometimes—but tough darts. I do not desire everything to be prefect for me, because I have lived in countries where that has been attempted, and lemme tell ya, buster, it is crap. I look forward to living in a real city again, such as when I could pop down a few flights of stairs at 4 a.m. and get a scotch, or a slice of damn good pizza (Ray's, anyone?) or something to read that is fresh off the delivery truck. The noise, the stench, the muggings and possibility of sudden death is what makes the earth move, and that is a dynamic that is required. I would like to see L.A. be that again, so feel free to pack up your family and get back to Colorado or wherever.

Li said...

BusTard, I really dislike gratuitous name calling. You can't tell a damn thing about Anonymous except that he/she doesn't like being woken up by noise. Knock it off with the stereotyping and personal attacks. I'm leaving this comment up for now, but if I see something like this again I'm deleting it.