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A guide to South Park, Downtown’s booming neighborhood

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The owner of Impresso Cafe dishes on her neighborhood, which is in “walking distance to everything”

The People's Guide offers tours of Los Angeles neighborhoods led by loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Our guide to South Park is Eva Shen, owner of Impresso Cafe, at 11th and Hope streets.

How long have you lived in South Park?

Since March. Before that I was also in Downtown, but more on the north side, near Union Station.

What brought you to the neighborhood?

I come from China originally, the south part of China in Hotan. China tends to be very high, people live really close to each other and to everything. I looked at the construction plan for South Park, there are tons of high rise buildings that are under construction or are already finished here.

Besides the density, what else do you enjoy about South Park?

I do like the demographics. All of the people here, they are very young professionals. And, because it’s a new community, it looks pretty.

What do you like least about the neighborhood?

Sometimes I do have concerns about the security, the safety. I have to walk my dog during the night, and I live in Hanover on Olympic and Grand, and there’s a strip club right downstairs in the apartment next to us.

And, even though the density is really high, we don’t see that much foot traffic in Downtown yet. I have customers from New York, and they come here and say it’s kind of a ghost town, where are is everyone? I’ve talked to several business owners about this. We know a lot of people live here, but where are those people?

What do most of the buildings in South Park look like?

Most of them are new projects so they look very contemporary and modern.

Tell us something we don't know about South Park.

My friends will tell me I’m crazy for wanting to live in downtown. But even though I said I have security concerns at night, it’s definitely safer than people think.

Where do locals hang out?

We go shopping or out to eat. There are so many restaurants. Normally we go to Bottle Rock for a bottle of wine. On Olive Street, there is a cute ice cream store that just opened, then maybe we’ll go to Acne Studios. We don’t have just one spot. There are so many small stores here.

Are there any hidden gems in South Park?

There’s Birdies, it’s pretty hidden store, it’s like a coffee shop but with fried chicken. It’s actually my competitor, but I don’t really think that way! They have really good donuts, the triple dark chocolate is probably my favorite. And there’s Chicas; it’s a very cute taco space.

Downtown isn’t really known for having a lot of outdoor space. Where do you go when you want to outside?

There are rooftop bars. The rooftop of Perch is really nice. We also have a small parklet in front of our store that has outdoor seating, it has plants. It’s a very cute little area.

Do you need a car to get around?

South park is walking distance to everything. There’s a new Whole Foods. There are food trucks. There’s fine dining. South Park is definitely walking distance to the Convention Center. It has everything.

And they have the metro bike share, which is much, much more convenient for people who think it’s hard to finding parking Downtown. If they just take Metro to Downtown you can bike everywhere you want.

Is it better for buyers or renters?

Right now, I’d say buyers. Because as a buyer, one thing you need to think about is the potential for the price, the value to grow in the future. And the rent here is not cheap at all. I think the average for a two-bedroom is $4,000, the same thing you need for a mortgage. But to buy in a condo here, you need to be aware that HOA fees. I think I pay $800 for HOA; I have a friend who pays $1,000.

Who wouldn’t enjoy living in South Park?

People who don’t enjoy community life. I’ve talked to some customers in late 50s, early 60s, they don’t like such a crowded area. If you’re looking for a very quiet or chill, relaxing community, this probably is not the best environment. And the thing about living in South Park is that if you live in lower floors, you’re probably going to hear a lot of traffic, you’ll hear ambulances, noise. And, if you live on a lower floor, there might be a bar nextdoor that plays loud music. If you’re concerned about your neighbors making noise, or talking and barbecuing at the pool area late at night, the whole building could hear it.

It just depends on personal preferences. I don’t mind that.

What kind of person would love this neighborhood?
People who love urban life, who love crowds, and who enjoy night life (also people who love dogs).