Downtown Los Angeles

A little change of wording and this article about the ups and downs of trying to invigorate the downtown of Los Angeles—a natural suburban city as is Sacramento—with the help of a new Rite-Aid, could very well be Sacramento, art walks and all.

An excerpt.

“The Rite-Aid opened a few years ago with fanfare, arriving at just about the high-point of the hype over the “Residential Renaissance” of Downtown. Rite-Aid set up shop in the Santee Village project, an ambitious effort that saw a developer get plenty of help from various government agencies in order to convert a collection of mid-rise buildings from garment shops to residential lofts.

“The project won plaudits as the latest in a trend that was bound to remake Downtown into a place where folks with lots of disposable income could “live, work and play,” according to boosters.

“Rite-Aid’s arrival appeared to offer a clear signal that the trend would go on unabated. The new, young, and relatively upscale residents of Downtown would need a proper drugstore, after all. It all seemed quite modern for a section of the city where mom-and-pop corner stores were the only option for aspirin or chewing gum, and pharmacies were still just that—not places that offer shampoo and light bulbs and soda to customers waiting for their prescriptions to be filled.

“The hype apparently failed to meet the expectations of the marketplace, though, and now Rite-Aid is leaving.

“Get used to it—but also realize that this is a phase, and there can be some benefits to a slowdown.

“Also keep in mind that Downtown has, indeed, seen a great deal of change with the latest round of residential redevelopment. Much of it has been good, even with the strains that have come as wealthier newcomers bumped into the many poor folks who called the area home long before its latest star turn. Take some solace in the thought that such strains will likely find room to ease now that the hype fading.

“The pending closure of the Rite-Aid, meanwhile, offers lessons to be absorbed by boosters and others. The chain is no stranger to inner-city retail, but you can bet that its executives overlooked a few things on the way to the corner of 7th and Los Angeles, especially in regard to the chances for crowds of upscale loft dwellers filling their aisles. All the gushing press and publicity couldn’t change the fact that the location still backs up against Skid Row, one of the toughest precincts of the city. It still takes a walk of several blocks—through territory that can be pretty scary at night—to get to the next section of Downtown where bright lights and activity provide a perception of public security.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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