News, Business and Politics: The year started with a bang, as Downtowners celebrated the opening of the 182-room Ace Hotel at 929 S. Broadway (1). The boutique establishment from the uber-hip chain reactivated the former United Artists Theatre building. The project included a renovation of the gorgeous 1,600-seat theater. It wasn’t the only significant change of the month: On Jan. 15, the Museum of Contemporary Art named Philippe Vergne its new director; Vergne would move to stabilize the finances of the institution and steer it away from the curatorial direction of former (and oft-criticized) Director Jeffrey Deitch.
On the development front, Equity Residential opened the $93 million Jia Apartments at 639 N. Broadway, giving a huge residential boost to Chinatown. Over in Skid Row, move-ins began in earnest at the Star Apartments. Skid Row Housing Trust’s stunning low-income complex was designed by architect Michael Maltzan. Additionally, the L.A. 2020 Commission released a report slamming local leadership for shortcomings concerning jobs, traffic and more.
Also: City Attorney Mike Feuer announced a $3.9 million judgment against a Downtown merchant for selling counterfeit goods — the largest ever by the office in a counterfeiting case; veteran residential firm Forest City purchased two lots near the Herald Examiner Building and announced plans to build apartments; and the 13,000-square-foot indoor rock climbing facility LA Boulders (2) opened at 1375 E. Sixth St.
Restaurants: L.A. Chapter, the brainchild of chef Ken Addington and partner Jud Mongell, opened on Jan. 18 in the Ace Hotel. Over at L.A. Live, the mammoth space formerly occupied by ESPN Zone came back to life as the restaurants Smashburger and Live Basil (Tom’s Urban arrived in February).
Entertainment: Christopher Plummer got literary in his fantastic one-man show A Word or Two (3) at the Ahmanson Theater. Although Velveteria in Chinatown opened in December, January was when most people learned about the velvet painting museum.