The promise of a Trader Joe's in Downtown is older than many a fancy bar in the neighborhood, but if the rumors heard by broker/blogger Brigham Yen are to be believed, it may finally be realized as part of a renovation and adaptive reuse project in the Jewelry District. The building supposedly slated for a major overhaul is the LA Jewelry Mart (712 South Olive Street). According to Yen, the brick building will soon be undergoing a makeover that will turn the upper floors into either live/work lofts or creative offices, with the ground floor reserved for retail—Trader Joe's retail.
Renderings from M2A Architects (which designed the Historic Core's Medallion complex and the hip Silver Lake Library) suggest that the rumored conversion would also cut a central light well into the roof and add rooftop penthouses to the building, and show two levels of underground parking. Yen does note that these renderings are "older"; Curbed has contacted M2A to determine how just how old the renderings are, but has yet to hear back. We've also reached out to Trader Joe's for information, but have not received a response. As for a paper trail (which a project like this would surely leave), permits have been submitted though not yet approved to convert the basement and sub-basement into a parking garage and to retrofit the entire building. So it looks like at the very, very least, they're trying to add some parking. Careful, don't add too much or it won't be a real Trader Joe's.
Whether or not the rumors prove true, we certainly hope that this building gets some careful updates. Built in 1917 and designed by LA-based architects Dodd and Richards, this wonderful structure once housed the Ville de Paris store and a sporting goods store that contained a log cabin and an indoor shooting range, and advertised itself as America's "most interesting store." It's worth noting, too, that not too far away, there's a confirmed project that's planning to turn the Foreman & Clark building into 165 residential units, two restaurants, and a bar. UPDATE 11/18: A rep for Trader Joe's says in an email "At this time, [this location] is not in our two year plan."