REAL ESTATE

Whole Foods to anchor posh apartment complex in downtown L.A.

Ritzy 700-unit Eighth & Grand apartment complex will feature first Whole Foods store in downtown L.A.

A ritzy 700-unit apartment complex, anchored by a prominent supermarket on the ground floor, is rising in resurging downtown Los Angeles.

The project, called Eighth & Grand, is one of several residential and retail developments that are transforming blocks of historical structures and parking lots on the south edge of the downtown's financial district.

The revival has drawn the first downtown outpost of Whole Foods, a high-end grocery chain that is adding to the allure of the neighborhood to an affluent, hip crowd seeking an urban lifestyle. The developers of the apartment complex are betting on the "Whole Foods" effect.

"The Whole Foods project alone will bring in over a thousand people," real estate broker Derrick Moore said. "It's going to bring new life to 8th Street."

A one-way street heading west, 8th was awash in parking lots for years before the recent downtown renaissance brought new development. Thousands of apartments are under construction or in the pipeline on 8th and nearby streets. Demand for apartments in downtown Los Angeles has surged in recent years as footloose millennials forgo buying homes.

"8th is a lot more quaint and cozy than 7th Street," Moore said. "That will cause a lot more of a community feel."

The new apartment and grocery store complex being built by San Francisco developer Carmel Partners fills most of a city block surrounded by Grand Avenue, 8th Street and Olive Street. The remainder of the block facing 7th Street is occupied by two century-old office buildings converted to apartments and several restaurants and shops.

Among the eateries is Bottega Louie, a juggernaut that serves more than 1 million people a year who spend a combined total of more than $18 million, Moore said.

Just south of Bottega Louie on Grand Avenue will be restaurants or shops that will be part of the Eighth & Grand complex. The entrances to the apartment building and Whole Foods will also face Grand Avenue.

"When we bought this property three years ago, we knew it was the best spot in Los Angeles," said Dan Garibaldi, senior vice president of development at Carmel Partners. "Everything that has happened since has underscored that."

Eighth & Grand targets renters ages 25 to 45, "singles or young couples who want to be in the thick of things downtown," Garibaldi said. "They'll also be social individuals who are going for the community we are encouraging."

Communal spaces will include a coffee bar and library off the lobby. The first floor will also have an expansive fitness center designed by New York fitness company the Wright Fit.

There will be outdoor space on the second floor with courtyards, a swimming pool, barbecues, a boccie ball court and a Zen sculpture garden. There will also be a screening room, clubhouse and pet washing facility.

The seventh floor will have a glass-walled lounge with city views, and the roof above the seventh floor will hold another swimming pool along with more barbecues and a screen for outdoor movie projection.

Units will range in size from 516 square feet to 1,323 square feet, Garibaldi said, and should be available by summer. Rents will start at $2,000 a month for a studio.

He declined to say how much the project would cost, but the previous owner of the property, Beverly Hills developer Sonny Astani, said he planned to spend $300 million to build a similar project. Astani secured city approvals for his development before selling the property in 2012.

Eighth & Grand will have four levels of underground parking — two for the apartment complex and two for Whole Foods.

The grocery store chain has been looking for a downtown Los Angeles site for the last decade, said Erica Dubreuil, regional vice president of operations, and plans to go big when the store opens in November.

The Whole Foods will have indoor and outdoor seating for up to 250 people and include a full-service bar and restaurant, she said. The concept is a recent innovation for Whole Foods.

"People are amazed by it because they don't expect to find a restaurant in a grocery store," Dubreuil said.

The store will also have a juice bar, a coffee bar and special stations selling sandwiches, tacos and other food intended to appeal to people on their lunch breaks.

"We expect a lot of foot traffic," she said.

roger.vincent@latimes.com

Twitter: @rogervincent

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