Downtown LA’s biggest rentals set for Fashion District

Singer Building lofts, next to a flagship Apple store, start at $10k per month

808 S. Broadway and Steve Needleman of Anjac Fashion Buildings (Google Maps, Getty)
808 S. Broadway and Steve Needleman of Anjac Fashion Buildings (Google Maps, Getty)

A set of new lofts that are among the largest and most expensive Downtown L.A. has ever seen are coming to the Fashion District.

Anjac Fashion Buildings LLC, a real estate investment firm with a large downtown presence, has converted the upper floors of the historic Singer Building into luxury residences. The former sewing machine company warehouse now features six lofts that are roughly 6,000 square feet each, with monthly lease rates from $10,000 to more than $15,000 per month.

Leasing is expected to start soon.

“It’s really unique,” said Mark Tarczynski, who specializes in downtown redevelopment properties for Colliers and is not involved with the project. “Size-wise and pricing-wise, in all of downtown, it is a new bar.”

The high-end renovation marks another transformation for both the Singer Building and 800 block of S. Broadway on the edge of the Fashion District, a neighborhood that now seems to be rebounding after seeing a redevelopment trend sidelined by the pandemic.

In February 2020, the month before the onset of the pandemic, skateboard-fashion brand Vans opened an 11,500-square-foot flagship store at the Singer Building. The company considers the store an urban draw for customers around Southern California.

The neighborhood scored a bookend retail coup this June, when Apple opened a new store, also intended as a flagship, in the restored Tower Theatre, a few steps up Broadway from the Singer Building. The historic Rialto Theater, a few steps the other way, became an Urban Outfitters in 2013.

A block to the south is the Ace Hotel, which will soon add a restaurant to the operation it opened in 2014 after a conversion of the United Artists building, a 1920s-era office that went through an era as a garment production center.

And across Broadway to the west is the now vacant Broadway Trade Center, a 1.1 million-square-foot mixed-use project that, if completed, will mark one of the largest commercial redevelopments in the country. The landmark project, which is slated to include a 150-room hotel and 345,000 square-feet of retail space, has been stalled by the pandemic and was up for sale, but in April the lenders agreed to extend financing through the end of the year.

The revitalization of the area owes much to a renovation of the Orpheum Theatre, also on the 800 block of S. Broadway. The $3.5 million project accounted for the first full rehabilitation among the handful of historic show palaces that line Broadway’s stretch though Downtown.

The Orpheum’s renovation was financed and overseen by Steve Needleman, chairman of Anjac Fashion Buildings, and completed in 2001. The 2,000-seat venue went from a second-run movie theater to a popular downtown performance space that would go on to host Lady Gaga and Yoko Ono, among others. It’s also served as a location for numerous commercial and movie shoots, and is sometimes rented out for special events such as annual meetings or fundraisers.

The renovation of the theater was followed by incremental changes on the block for years, with upper-scale restaurants and retailers moving into some spaces before Vans and Apple.

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Now Anjac’s transformation of the Singer Building represents another sizable step forward, ranking among L.A.’s most notable residential conversions in recent memory.

The building, a 65,000-square-foot Beaux Arts structure that Anjac has owned for decades, was built in 1922.

Anjac began an extensive refurbishment several years ago, hiring the Downtown L.A. architecture firm Omgivning. In 2017 the company announced the pending Vans arrival, and the next year announced the conversion of the upper floors into high-end apartments.

“Between the pandemic — we had to shut down construction, and the project had a few other delays — it’s been a long process, but we’re very excited about it,” said Anjac’s Jessica Lewensztain, Needleman’s daughter, who served as project manager.

The lofts, marketed as live/work apartments, feature one-, two- or three-bedroom options; elevators; and wraparound kitchens and glass walls that open onto outdoor patios. The premium is on privacy — the listing boasts “an entire floor with no adjacent neighbors for your living space!” The target market, Lewensztain said, is well-heeled renters who might not actually live in L.A. full time.

“In my mind, it’s six people in the world that want some kind of home office or base in Downtown Los Angeles,” she said, but who don’t necessarily want the commitment of property ownership.

The building expects to receive its certificate of occupancy soon, and two potential tenants have already expressed strong interest, Lewensztain said.

At 6,000 square feet, the Singer apartments will become some of downtown’s largest homes. Residential lofts at the downtown Ritz Carlton, by comparison, mostly range from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet; the Ritz’s penthouse barely edges the Singer Building’s lofts at 6,600 square feet.

The Singer lofts represent a new benchmark for high-end building conversions, as well as a contrast to many of the area’s recent residential additions. Just a couple blocks away, new sister projects called Sentral (formerly The Grace on Spring and The Griffin on Spring) have attracted luxury renters. But those 24-story, roughly 300-unit towers don’t match the Singer’s size or prices: In one tower, a 1,500-square-foot two-bedroom apartment is renting for $4600, and the most expensive rental, a furnished 1,800-square-foot penthouse, is leasing for $8,000.

The Singer Building, meanwhile, is seen by some as a bellwether of a quickening pace.

“Up until the pandemic, things were rocking and rolling,” said Tarczynski. “And I will say that it’s poised to come back.”