The Allure of the Alamo

DTLA—The fate of Downtown Los Angeles does not depend on any single business or tenant. With more than 400,000 daily workers, approximately 75,000 residents and a collection of buzzworthy restaurants, bars and shops, the community is surging.

All that said, the recently opened Alamo Drafthouse is a fantastic addition to Downtown, and one that both benefits the community and enhances the neighborhood’s reputation. Having the 12-screen Alamo sends another strong signal that Downtown is ripe for investment and is a desirable location for number-crunching retailers. Additionally, it lends a patina of cool to the neighborhood.

Downtown's Alamo Drafthouse Is Finally Here

As Los Angeles Downtown News reported last week, the Alamo debuted on July 20 in the Financial District complex The Bloc. The two-level project is a major play, and in addition to the 539 seats (individual theaters hold between 40 and 63 people), the Alamo includes a bar with food and dozens of beers on tap, a gaming arcade, a store and even a space where people can borrow DVDs. It’s a place to catch a film or hang with a group of friends.

Alamo is a unique brand, and stands out from some of the other worthy but still cookie-cutter chain stores that have popped up in various Downtown neighborhoods. In a way the Alamo Drafthouse is a connecting point between the Whole Foods, which opened in the Financial District in 2015, and Downtown’s first Apple store, which is under construction in the old Tower Theatre on Broadway. Yes, Downtown has other supermarkets and computer stores, just as it has other places to catch a movie, but branches of Whole Foods, Alamo Drafthouse and the Apple store all also function as destinations. They draw people to a neighborhood, and their presence, singularly and collectively, can help lure other businesses to the area.

The Whole Foods Arrives

Getting Alamo open wasn’t easy. The Downtown location was initially announced in 2014 with plans for a 2015 debut. The delays stemmed from a combination of design changes Alamo effected, and a construction process that lasted longer than anticipated.

Alamo’s arrival also fits in a Downtown where the growth extends beyond hip retailers and entertainment spaces. The new theater is the type of business that will appeal to the rising number of local employees at tech and creative firms, among them workers at Warner Music Group and Spotify, both recent arrivals in the Arts District.

Give the Alamo corporate team credit for making its first Los Angeles outpost in Downtown, and for picking a site near mass transit (The Bloc connects to mass transit via the 7th Street/Metro Center Station). Many businesses might be more inclined to have their initial L.A. location be in a neighborhood such as Hollywood, Santa Monica or Pasadena. Alamo settled upon the Financial District five years ago, and in the period since then designed a space intended to appeal to Downtown workers and residents.

Alamo is also a strong addition to The Bloc, which itself is a transformed destination. The once fortress-like Macy’s Plaza was completely remade and today boasts an inviting courtyard that beckons passersby on Seventh Street. The project, and its new tenant, show just how far Downtown has come.

Copyright 2019 Los Angeles Downtown News