Welcome to #TBT or “Throwback Thursday,” a monthly feature exploring the history of L.A.’s real estate.
Building Address: 612 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Year Built: 1924
Nearly a century ago, 612 S. Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles was home to Desmond’s Department Store, a prominent retailer of men’s and women’s clothing featuring a distinctive terra cotta face with twisting columns, balconies, and an ornamental pediment. Founded by Daniel Desmond in 1924, the department store was designed by famed local architect Albert C. Martin who established the architecture firm now known as A.C. Martin Partners.
In a story on Desmond’s opening by the LA Times, the newspaper described the store’s novel features: “The lounge, with its inviting fireplace for men, a patio, for women, with a tinkling fountain, a college section for the youthful male, and in the children’s section a circus. Below stairs a barber shop done in scarlet and black. A golf shop, with putting green, is near.”
Today the seven-story, 81,307-square-foot property is still standing and contributes to the historic value of the Broadway Theater and Commercial District and featured in the National Register of Historic Places. The iconic building currently houses ground floor retail tenants and has been vacant on the upper floors for decades. It is being marketed as creative office by Cushman & Wakefield’s Mike Condon Jr., Kelli Snyder, and Yumi Goto.
The historic Broadway corridor has become one of the most influential driving forces in culture and entertainment downtown with numerous redevelopment projects in the works. It has become the focal point for creative office and boutique hotel development thanks to Bringing Back Broadway, an initiative led by Councilmember José Huizar with goals to revitalize the area, provide economic development and business assistance, encourage historic preservation, and reactivate the historic theaters and long-underutilized commercial buildings.
In addition to adapting 612 S. Broadway into creative office space, Urbanize LA recently reported that Nike’s Jordan Brand will be opening a flagship store at 620 S. Broadway, the historic former Schaber’s Cafeteria building next door to the old Desmond’s space. Founded by Alfred Schaber in 1928, the two-story cafeteria was a popular eatery frequented by shoppers and theatergoing patrons on Broadway. The proposed 19,000-square-foot facility for the Michael Jordan-helmed lifestyle brand would preserve the original terra cotta architecture of the historic 1920s property while featuring retail space, training areas, and a rooftop basketball court.
“The emerging ‘SoBro’ or South Broadway District is the epicenter of the urban renaissance in Downtown L.A.,” said Mike Condon, Jr.
“It really captures all the aspects of Downtown’s live work play philosophy.”