1929-Vintage Market Will Get New Life

Times Staff Writer

Festival marketplaces--where you can buy fresh food or already cooked--are springing up all over the nation in the successful wake of Boston's Quincy Market.

These up-market versions of such longtime fixtures as Seattle's Pike Place Market, the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, Farmers Market in the Fairfax district, and the Lexington Market in Baltimore, are popular with residents and tourists.

Yet another version of a festival marketplace will appear in November, with the $4.5-million renovation of the historic Chapman Market in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles.

The project, taking the 1929-vintage complex back to its roots as the nation's first drive-in market, is the latest collaboration between developer Wayne Ratkovich of the Ratkovich Co. and architect Brenda Levin of Levin & Associates.

The transformation will retain the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture of Stiles O. Clements of Morgan, Walls and Clements, who also designed the Wiltern Theatre and Pellissier Building at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue.

The theater and the office building were restored by Ratkovich and Levin. Their other projects were the Oviatt Building and the Fine Arts Building in downtown Los Angeles.

"Chapman Market is our response to the rash of mini-malls afflicting Los Angeles," Ratkovich said.

His joint-venture partner on the Chapman project is Copley Real Estate Advisors, with construction financing provided by Wells Fargo Bank.

"The project is a food-oriented mixed-use development that will serve a daytime working population estimated at 40,000 and the neighborhood as a place of convenience. It will also be a place of beauty and an urban meeting ground for those who appreciate the charm of early Los Angeles," Ratkovich said.

'Urban Entrepreneurs'

Emphasizing that Chapman Market is not a public market in the sense of Pike Place or the numerous cooperative farmers markets around the nation, Ratkovich said that individual spaces in his project will be available in the 784-1,200-square-foot range, "ideal for urban entrepreneurs who take pride and pleasure in locating within emerging and reviving Los Angeles neighborhoods."

The neighborhood at 6th Street and Alexandria Avenue is just north of the Ambassador, and includes such major office towers as the Equitable Life building at 3435 Wilshire Blvd., about three blocks east of the Wiltern/Pellissier project.

Originally called the Chapman Park Market, the building is between Kenmore and Alexandria avenues, fronting on 6th Street. At the northwest corner of 6th Street and Alexandria Avenue is the restored Chapman Park Building, also designed by Clements. The Chapman Park Hotel was demolished in the 1960s.

Interior Courtyard

The market was designed around an interior courtyard, which will be restored as a Los Angeles version of a European piazza, a natural gathering place for the community, according to David Gazek, development manager for the project.

Part of the adaptive reuse will be a new 3,090-square-foot building fronting on Alexandria.

The Chapman project will have 28,000 square feet of ground floor retail space geared toward such uses as a specialty market with fresh produce and deli items, fish market, full-service restaurant, small health club, a neighborhood bistro, purveyors of ethnic foods, music/video store, bakery, wine and liquor store, card shop, cleaner's and complementary services, according to Kathleen Welch, marketing manager at Ratkovich.

Total Renovation

Second-story towers will offer 9,400 square feet of office space overlooking both 6th Street and the courtyard. The building is being stripped down to its shell and will be totally renovated, Welch said. The courtyard will feature what is still a rarity in Los Angeles, outdoor dining, she added.

Other current projects of the Ratkovich firm include the development of a new campus for the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles and a major development of the Long Beach Pike property. The Long Beach project is a joint venture with developer James W. Rouse and the Enterprise Development Co.

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