SHOWTIME: A rendition of the new Urban Outfitters store in downtown LA

SHOWTIME: A rendition of the new Urban Outfitters store in downtown LA


Urban Outfitters Coming to the Historic Rialto Theatre in Downtown LA

Urban Outfitters is living up to its name. It’s going really urban.

The Philadelphia-based retail chain announced on May 2 that it is opening up a large store inside the nearly 100-year-old Rialto Theatre, located on Broadway, a downtown Los Angeles street targeted for revitalization. The 9,830-square-foot store will open by the end of 2013.

John Hauser, Urban Outfitters’ chief officer of brand experience, said his company had been scouting the neighborhood for a while.

“We had been looking at downtown LA for several years, watching what was happening and where. When we decided the time was right to open an Urban Outfitters, the Rialto Theatre on Broadway was the perfect location,” Hauser said.

When the new Urban Outfitters opens at 812 S. Broadway, it will sell the chain’s unique men’s and women’s fashions along with its lifestyle product.

Urban Outfitters pledged to restore the Rialto and its marquee, which is considered an icon in downtown Los Angeles. The theater opened in 1917 with a showing of the silent film “The Garden of Allah,” which was accompanied by an original score performed by the Quinn Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the score’s composer, Joseph Carl Breil.

Inside the store, there will be various design details, such as a concession stand–inspired cash wrap with glass fronts and tops, a projection screen, steel mesh stairs, and an exposed wood truss structure.

The retailer developed a similar project in Charleston, S.C., when it renovated the Garden Theatre and turned it into an Urban Outfitters store. The chain runs 35 permanent locations in California.

The Rialto Theatre has been a sad presence on Broadway. Its once-great heyday as a movie house, with one of the longest marquees in downtown Los Angeles, faded a long time ago. In recent years, the building has been shuttered, but the front has several low-end stores that populate it.

In recent years, Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar, whose district includes Broadway, has been fighting to revive the street.

The councilman’s “Bringing Back Broadway” initiative plans to attract more retailers to the street with a trolley going up and down the thoroughfare and more higher-end restaurants and stores.

Huizar worked with Urban Outfitters to take over the faded structure. “Buildings are being brought out of decades of dormancy,” Huizar said.” I have no doubt in the coming months and years this momentum will continue to build a Broadway that is active from storefront to rooftop, day and night.”

While downtown Los Angeles has long been considered a candidate to be the next fashionable neighborhood, it is quickly becoming true. The hip boutique hotel chain Ace Hotel is scheduled to open a downtown location near the corner of Broadway and East Ninth Street by the end of this year.

Prominent contemporary label Acne Studios announced recently it will open a 5,000-square-foot shop a block north of the Ace.

Earlier this year, Ross Dress for Less opened in a more than 90-year-old building at 719 S. Broadway.

Downtown Los Angeles is not only growing its retail, but the area is a hub for hip and happening residents who want to live in a compact urban hub and walk to work. A number of upscale restaurants have been popping up to accommodate this new population.

Kent Smith, executive director for the Los Angeles Fashion District Business Improvement District, said the area has the kind of residents needed to support an Urban Outfitters.

More than 15,000 people live in the historic sections of downtown Los Angeles, where older buildings have been revitalized into artists’ lofts and condos. Broadway is the latest street to undergo a metamorphosis. “The street has reached a tipping point,” Smith said. “We’re going to have an ever-growing number of retailers in this area.”