A Quick Guide to Downtown Los Angeles

Many people pick their vacation spots based on their ability to experience something different. After all, what’s the point of going if you’re just going to see the same old things you see every day? If this need for variety describes you, if you’re one of the people who want new experiences, a vacation in Los Angeles will suit you just fine.

Los Angeles is a very large, cosmopolitan American city. It’s a great place to visit because it offers its tourists an incredibly wide array of things to see and do. One of the city’s highlights for people who crave something different is its delightful melange of diverse ethnic groups and cultures. Although their influences can be seen throughout Los Angeles, several of these different cultures are centered or showcased in or around the Downtown district. But even if the multicultural nature of Los Angeles doesn’t really appeal, plenty of other Downtown attractions are available, and some of them will most certainly draw your attention. Downtown Los Angeles, offering something different in every direction, is definitely worth a visit.

No matter where your hotel is located, Downtown Los Angeles is easy to get to. It’s the central hub for transportation throughout the city, and freeways, commuter trains, subways, light rail and buses can all take you there. Downtown isn’t all that large, so whether you drive or take public transportation, once you get there you can take a DASH shuttle or set out on foot for your ultimate destination.

Historic Olvera Street, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Grand Central Market, the Disney Concert Hall, the Japanese-American National Museum, several different ethnic enclaves and stunning American and international architecture are just a few of Downtown’s tourist highlights. Olvera Street is in the oldest part of Los Angeles and it forms part of the Downtown area’s El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. it’s the perfect place to start if you’re looking for Southern California history or the quaintness of an old-style Mexican marketplace. A living museum lined with 27 historic buildings, Olvera Street also hosts a variety of ethnic celebrations that include Mexican-style music and dancing.

A cultural experience of another type, the permanent collections and exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) provide a remarkably varied glimpse into post-1940 art in all media. It’s an invaluable cultural resource that Downtown is rightfully proud of. Walk through it and you’ll soon see why.

Grand Central Market is located on Broadway in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, within easy walking distance of several other area attractions. Full of brisk and bustling activity, it offers opportunities for people-watching in addition to fresh and already-prepared local and international foods. It’s a great place to take a break from the concrete jungle, and while you’re at it, have a cooling drink or a tasty bite to eat.

The Disney Concert Hall is a striking piece of functional architecture designed by Frank Gehry, an architect acclaimed for his talents throughout the world. The home of the equally-renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic, Disney’s acoustics appropriately are among the best in the world. Beautiful music, beautiful building. Need we say more?

Chronicling 130 years of Japanese-American history and culture, the Japanese-American National Museum provides a fascinating look into the interplay of Asian and American cultures. Its collections include a variety of paintings by Japanese-American artists, but the museum’s perspective on the World War II internment camps is particularly poignant.

Three ethnic districts are located in Downtown Los Angeles: a Mexican enclave, including the already-mentioned Olvera Street; Little Tokyo, home of the Japanese-American National Museum as well as a variety of Japanese shops and restaurants; and Chinatown, primarily centered around North Broadway. Little Tokyo, located near the Los Angeles Civic Center, is one of only three “official” Japantowns in the United States. The cultural focal point for Japanese-Americans in Southern California, this almost unique district is well worth a visit.

Many American cities have Chinatowns, but the Chinese community in Los Angeles, with its wide, busy main street, is somewhat different than the usual warren of narrow streets and lanes found in many cities. Yes, this Chinatown features the typical small shops and Chinese restaurants, but it is most interesting for its open-air marketplace where just about everything for sale is open to haggling.

Variety is the rule of thumb with Downtown Los Angeles dining opportunities, too. Restaurants in every price range, from hot dog stands to fine dining, offer cuisine as varied as the city itself. From early breakfasts to get you started through tasty late night snacks to nosh on, if you’re hungry one of Downtown’s cafés, pubs or restaurants can help you. Downtown also offers taverns, lounges and bars galore, and you may want to take advantage, because many of them offer some pretty fine live entertainment. And if you need a place to stay, Downtown hotels range from the hip and trendy to those offering more than a touch of classic elegance. They cater primarily to business travelers, but vacationers can also take advantage of their prime locations in the city center.

Downtown, much like the entire city, has a number of faces. If you’re looking for something different, downtown Los Angeles has it. There’s enough variety to satisfy even the most demanding traveler.

Saving a Ton on Traffic – Best Deals Aren’t Downtown

 Downtown is the trendy place to be.  No matter what city you live in or near, the downtown area is where everything is concentrated.  You have businesses, clubs, restaurants, activities, stadiums, events- everything you could possibly want is downtown.  Because downtown is so central and so concentrated, it’s where everyone wants to be- including data centers and collocation facilities.

The High Price of Downtown
 
But downtown comes with its own host of problems.  The main disadvantage of downtown is the high cost of real estate.  Everyone wants to be there.  And because of this, companies have to pay a premium to locate downtown.   If rents rise, people are either forced to pay higher rent or leave the location that they perceive to be prime.
 
Unfortunately, this doesn’t help the consumer, especially when it comes to data centers and colocation.  Because these facilities are so specialized and require so much energy, power and infrastructure to run, they’re not likely to move locations if rents are raised too much.   In fact, it would be a disadvantage for downtown data centers to do so because of the costs associated with moving an entire data center and the inconvenience it would cause for the customers.
 
So, when rent goes up, colocation facilities are forced to pay.  In order to make up the costs, prices are raised or services are cut in order to maintain the same margin.
 
The Best Deals Aren’t Downtown
 
If you’re looking for the best deal on colocation, downtown is not the place to look.  The farther away you get from the city, the less expensive real estate is.   There are many reasons for this, but the point is that data centers don’t have to pay the high premiums for real estate.  Without these excess costs for rent, facilities are able to pass these savings onto customers.  Not only can they offer cheaper prices per rack, but they can also include more bandwidth and more services.  By locating away from downtown, you’ll get at least the same quality of service and in many cases you’ll get better service without having to pay the high prices that you do downtown.  
 
A sample price comparison of a facility located just outside the city center and a facility located right in the heart of downtown is as follows:
 
Downtown facility-

 ½ Rack- $650 (Does NOT include traffic)

Full rack- $1200 (Does NOT include traffic)
 
It is not possible to rent space in any smaller amounts.  It’s pretty much all or nothing, which doesn’t accommodate the needs of smaller businesses or allow for gradual expansion.  Other services include a power generator (which belongs to the building and therefore they don’t have complete control over its usage) and 100mps ports.  
 
Facility near, but not in, downtown-  
 
1/8 Rack- $175 (includes 50 GB traffic)

¼ Rack- $350 (includes 200 GB traffic)

½ Rack- $500 (includes 350 GB traffic)

Full rack- $900 (includes 800 GB traffic)
 
Other features include a power generator which is owned by the company allowing more control, owning their own facilities, 100 mbps ports and free internal traffic with an internet account.  
 
Savings Passed on to You
 
As you can see, facilities that are not located downtown can afford to pass on the savings to customers.  Not only is it less expensive to rent a rack, but it also comes with more features, such as included traffic and free internal traffic.  Not only that, but hosting away from downtown will save you on other costs you may not even have thought of such as not having to pay for parking.  All-in-all, regardless of where you’re located, it’s always much cheaper to host your servers outside of downtown than it is to host them right in the heart of downtown. 

Pros and Cons of Siting a Business in a Historic District Versus a Strip Mall

The trend since the 1950’s has been to site new retail businesses in suburban areas, and not in central core historic downtown districts. The growth over the last half century in America has been to be where the population is and was moving. Downtown’s were and continue to still be dying. Over the last decade or so the historic downtowns have become popular destination stops for the customers to drive, walk or bike to and for suburbanites to shop, dine and relax. Most successful downtowns are not “cookie cutter” in they are not strips with large asphalt parking lots in front with a few trees and shrubs linearly placed to comply with zoning laws. Downtown’s are not only old buildings but collections of memorable events from days gone by, and in many downtowns of days now gone forever. So why would one consider opening a business in a downtown location?

Very well, let us get started. On one side you will find the “Pro”, the positions in favor:

The number one point in support for creating a business in a historic downtown district is if the local government is inclined to save and rehab. the area there often are programs set up to aid in rent, upfits, and marketing support. In many situations the rent is going to be less than what one pays in a newly built strip mall which can be a strong benefit. Many malls are owned by large corporate entities and have a rigid formula for what the rental income must be. The buildings in a downtown are often owned by private parties and/or descendants/children from the original owners and have no fixed costs so they can work with the tenants on rent and set asides.

The secondary positive point is customers like to visit points of interest. Customers like stories of the history, being informed of those who were there and what their individual histories were. They like to know where and how a town developed. The customer can brand not only with the store but with the location, which does not happen in a strip mall..

The third positive point is many downtowns have merchants who band together to help each other and to promote the location as much as they promote their own stores. There can be a collective effort to market the downtown location..

A 4th support point in favor is going to be that most downtowns are pedestrian friendly. People can walk leisurely to the shops and stores, dine outside on the sidewalks, and enjoy shopping at leisure, not elbow to elbow in a crowded mall..

Lastly, the 5th point is many downtowns set themselves apart by having activities going on such as festivals and events. Vendor booths, food stands, bands playing, farmer’s markets all are highlights of having a business in a downtown district. The area is alive and has a personality unlike strip centers..

And alternatively, to help keep this balanced, there’s Con; Against:

The primary point against creating a business in a historic downtown district is most do not have a large amount of drive by traffic such as strip centers on major thoroughfares. If drive by and car access in and out are crucial to the business then best not to be downtown. Downtown is a place where the main street is 100 years old, narrow and often delivery trucks are stopped in the road making the traffic pace much slower..

The second point in contra will be unless there is some provision to allow a slower time frame for the building to come to code then the cost of renovation to comply with codes can be super expensive for the tenant or property owner. Many buildings in historic downtowns have been rehabbed many times over in the course of their existence. Each “fit up” is an adventure with old wires, new floors, cut off pipes being discovered and to go from that point to 100% compliance with building codes designed for new buildings can be a financial nightmare.

A 3rd significant point against is even with high upfit costs there often are restrictive covenants imposed upon the area by local, national and state historic conservation groups. The community feels they have an interest in preservation and set higher standards which usually result in restrictions on what and how a store can be up-fitted..

4th point in contra will be much smaller square footage to work with. Most downtowns do not have existing spaces to handle chain grocers, big boxes, or car dealerships. These type stores bring to them lots of foot traffic but they require large 100,000 sq. ft. buildings and parking for 100’s of cars. Anything that large would destroy the downtown simply by it’s size in most historic downtown districts..

Fifth and finally, last point in contra will be often the historic downtowns have special taxes on the properties that other areas of a town do not. This means the taxes get passed on in rents often. The tax may be used to promote the area but in some situations those same taxes go into a general fund and are not used to enhance the businesses in the special tax districts..

So there we have some of the arguments for each side.

So, in the final analysis is creating a business in a historic downtown district a good thing? or a bad thing?

It depends on your type of business and your overall objectives. Many downtown business owners choose their locations because of the pace of life, quality issues and for many it’s civic pride to be part of a history, to add to the quality of that history and to preserve the good from those who preceded them. Often downtown’s biggest strengths are the character of those who choose to try. It creates an air of excitement that customers can build off of, enjoy and continue to visit over and over, bringing new friends to show off “their town”.