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Can a New Wave of Fancy Chain Stores Finally Revitalize Dull Westwood Village?

Sleepy Westwood Village has for years been a collection of empty storefronts and, with a handful of exceptions, forgettable shops and restaurants. Once a high-end shopping destination and entertainment hub (more than a dozen movie theaters!) back in the 1970s, the neighborhood has tried to get its groove back many times. For a while it was even thinking about morphing into an artsy, pedestrian- and bike-friendly district, but so far, nothing's really taken off in a big way. But right now, the foundation's being laid for a gradual but solid revival of the neighborhood through selectively chosen retail of all things, says the LA Business Journal.

Many attribute Westwood's fall from its heights as a vibrant destination to the 1988 killing of a young woman caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shooting. The LABJ says that things were "looking up" for the neighborhood by 2008, but clearly that didn't really take hold. The latest boost to the neighborhood is being attributed to one company, Topa Management Company, which owns a quarter of Westwood Village's properties; they've been trying to revitalize the Village by curating the list of tenants who come into their spaces. (The remaining properties are split among 55 other owners.) So instead of random t-shirt stores or fast food, the retail that's recently moved in or will be moving in soon is kind of fancy and chainy, like stationery seller Paper Source, posh kitchenware retailer Sur La Table, and health-focused Tender Greens. Several restaurants and a yoga place are also on the way, and at least one long-time tenant, Napa Valley Grille, is sinking $2 million into renovations of their spot. (A few years ago, Urban Outfitters doubled the size of their Westwood Village location— also a good sign and a vote of confidence in the 'hood.)

The goal is not to recreate the old "flashy entertainment destination" that Westwood once was, but instead to create a collection of restaurants and stores that "can draw locals in full force and stay in business for years to come," says the LABJ. But with great promise comes great responsibility: "If we stall again, it would send a terrible message," says the executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association, a group of local business and property owners.
· Selling Revival [LABJ]
· 4 Proposals For Reinventing Westwood Village as an Artsy Hub [Curbed LA]