Are mid-level food options the sweet spot for DTLA’s Financial District?

The building at 7th and Flower, with the pickup window indicated by the arrow, and Colliers' Gabe Kadosh
The building at 7th and Flower, with the pickup window indicated by the arrow, and Colliers' Gabe Kadosh

In a deal that could signal the reanimation of the patchy retail mix around 7th and Flower streets in Downtown L.A.’s Financial District, poke chain Sweetfin signed a 10-year lease for just under 1,700 square feet at 727 West 7th Street, said Colliers agent Gabe Kadosh, who brokered the deal on behalf of the landlord. RKF represented the tenant.

Sources said the deal for the former Famima!! store space was valued at roughly $1.6 million, with the tenant also paying operational expenses. Sweetfin’s rent is roughly $8 per square foot per month. The rate is high for the area. A lease brokered last year in the same building was set at $6 a square foot a month, while another that is now in talks a few blocks away is for $6.25, sources said.

The storefront space, which has been vacant since Famima!! shuttered last year, sits in a unique location. It is close to many office buildings filled with monied workers, but also to the Metro, which is a gathering place for those seeking spare change. Most of the food options around the station serve up fast food, while posh Bottega Louie and Sugarfish are only a few blocks away. Sweetfin, which offers $10-$14 create-your-own bowls, is somewhere in between.

Kadosh said that finding a tenant that could offer room service to the residents at the high-end Roosevelt apartments above the retail space, was crucial, as was negotiating a pickup window “to bring life back” a “dark” section of Flower. Both of those requirements were met. Once Sweetfin’s renovations are complete, a walk-up takeout window will be open on Flower, with the main entrance on 7th.

The restaurant will join Sweetfin’s other installations in reliably high-rent, walkable hubs in Santa Monica, Topanga, Larchmont, mid-city’s Third Street, and Westwood Village.

Seth Cohen, Partner and Founder at Sweetfin, chose 727 West 7th Street for the mix of potential customers: office and residential occupancy translates to both daytime and nighttime business.

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Cohen said Sweetfin is “bullish on Downtown,” but he feels no rush to jump into the Arts District, Little Tokyo, or other DTLA trend magnets. “[The Arts District] is a fantastic opportunity but I don’t see it happening for a couple years. In terms of actual density I don’t think it gets better than that spot [we chose]. We’re between two Metro stops. The Bloc is across the street.”

Cohen and his partners were also motivated by the proximity to South Park a few blocks south.

At press, design renderings were not yet available. Cohen said the restaurant will share common design elements – like the signature whitewashed wood and marble — with other Sweetfin locations. There can be no exterior design changes, apart from the walkup window, because of the building’s historic status. The Los Angeles Conservancy holds an easement protecting the building’s façade.

Kadosh said he fielded intense interest in the space, juggling 15 offers from other recognizable brands (he won’t name names on record). During the deal, the ownership of the property changed.

The building was purchased by Livcor, a multi-family subsidiary of behemoth Blackstone, as part of a large nationwide acquisition from Greystone Partners last December. According to Kadosh, the property officially changed hands in January.

Sweetfin is expected to open in mid-December.