Reimagining Spaces: Urban Reprogramming in Empty Retail Space

04 - DTLA Retail Griffin View copy

In downtown Los Angeles, ground floor commercial spaces are typical to new residential and office buildings. Leaseholders of these spaces can present so much income volatility that they’re sometimes not even reflected in a developer's proforma. It is now crucial to fill the long-vacant commercial spaces below, especially when residential or office uses above are performing well. Through creative thinking and blended uses, our goal is to reinvigorate ground-floor spaces by creating revenue, making sure the lights stay on, and helping tenants engage the adjacent street frontage. Doing so reactivates connections to the public realm and allows the surrounding community to thrive.

The following two concepts focus on activating a ground-floor commercial space at the corner of the Griffin, an Omgiving interiors project located at the corner of 8th and Spring streets. Both options seek to energize an empty corner amid the urban fabric of downtown LA’s Fashion District. Their intent goes beyond the standards of traditional commercial spaces, instead becoming a platform for micro-communities that invigorate the immediate area.

Urban ground Floor Commerical Intro Existing

Makers Collective

This concept brings the typology of a food hall to non-culinary uses. Food halls can thrive because of an economic model that allows for smaller startups to gain traction in the local marketplace, drawing invaluable benefits while operating on a relatively cost-effective platform.

In this Makers Collective concept, a master tenant, or even an existing building management company can lease a large space and subdivide it into smaller units for individuals or small startups.

Smaller individual spaces lend themselves to affordable leases. They generate clear opportunities for people to create and market their own products while expanding their connections to like-minded individuals. Each tenant would have their own portion of the storefront and would be required to connect visually and physically to the sidewalk and surrounding community. Each unit could also be outfitted to accommodate live/work conditions according to a tenant's specific needs.

Through the Makers Collective model, the management company or master tenant effectively offers tenants the chance to grow their company, product, and vision. They could also oversee a media platform for the entire group to increase their visibility and outreach. The program also consists of shared space to house equipment needed by the tenants including high quality printers and scanners and a shared space for events and periodic showcases of the community’s products. An outdoor lounge and garden provide a communal gathering space. A portion of each tenant's monthly rent would cover the use and operation of these common areas.

Urban Makers Concept

Restaurant/Office Hybrid

Even before the pandemic, both restaurants and offices in Los Angeles faced considerable operating-cost issues. As of early 2020, the average cost of Class A office space in Los Angeles was $3.66/sf. For just over 3,000 sf of office space, a company could potentially be paying over $11,000 per month for rent making up a significant percentage of their operational costs. Similarly, the rising costs of rent, payroll, and food are significant financial challenges for most restaurants. The average lifespan of a restaurant is five years, and by some estimates, up to 90 percent of new venues fail within the first year. The goal of this concept is to reduce operational costs for both the restaurant and office spaces while maximizing space for critical uses, as there already exists a precedent for coworking office spaces coexisting with restaurant spaces.

Operationally, the office space would be open during normal business hours, while the restaurant use would function in the evening in order for both entities to remain separate and secure. There is potential for each use to have limited crossover. In the evening, while the restaurant is open, any remaining office workers could return to the designated office space. A single operator or partners with joint ownership could potentially host the two ventures in this hybrid concept.

The Restaurant/Office Hybrid concept aims to reduce the footprint for both the office and restaurant use by sharing the varied seating arrangements provided by the restaurant that can accommodate both individual work and collaboration in groups. By sharing this significant amount of space, the office can focus on higher quality support spaces including printing capabilities, media labs, IT, and personal video call booths while benefiting from the hospitality component of the restaurant space. This concept also includes an outdoor patio and larger, more private rooms used for conferences or large-scale private dining opportunities.

Urban Restaurant Office Hybrid Concept

Amid the upheaval from today's pandemic, we see one clear implication for our industry: space design is entering a whole new era, and there's no going back. Since March 2020, Omgivning has been exploring the potential of this design evolution and reimagining three space types in particular: Workplace, Commercial and Multifamily.

Click here for our complete Urban Reprogramming commercial design report.

Click here for our complete Reimagining the Workplace design report.

Adaptive Reuse, Design