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Crucial Chunk of Echo Park Getting a Gentrification Makeover

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The businesses are moving out and 1.14 acres at Sunset and Alvarado will be transformed into Sunset+Mohawk

Recently Echo Park has become a neighborhood marked by dizzying change. With Silver Lake reaching peak gentrification, the wave has moved eastward, in search of new property in need of fresh horizontal wood fencing adorned with an ever-present stainless steel address. This past year alone, two record shops in Echo Park went out of business, and were replaced with two different record shops. Yet another fancy barbershop is moving in near Echo Park Avenue. Pour-over coffee is practically currency. Anyone seeking one last look at the Echo Park of old had better move quick.

Last summer came news that a substantial portion of Echo Park was set to change forever when nearly the entire southwest corner of Sunset and Alvarado hit the real estate market. Jones Lang LaSalle advertised 1.14 acres in total up for sale, touting it as an investment opportunity in a "pro-mixed use" neighborhood, one that allows "nearly unrestricted opportunities within an irreplaceable canvas for future development."

Well, someone took the bait, and future development is on the way.

According to Eastsider LA, JLL has officially sold the land it called a "truly irreplaceable intersection" and the local businesses being replaced are in the process of packing up shop. Though it was initially reported that some leases in the cluster of properties extended as far out as 2020, it now looks as though all buildings will become vacant by June of this year.

By early summer, the character of Sunset and Alvarado—a crucial corner in Echo Park—will be almost unrecognizable from the way it looked just six months ago. Pizza Buona is already gone, victim of an unrelated rent hike, Hit Bargain is reducing its inventory in anticipation of the move, and the Lucy's laundromat will be out before the end of April. Rewind Audio, a mom and pop electronics store, will quickly celebrate their sixth anniversary in April before moving their shop online.

The last holdouts of Sunset and Alvarado will be Wells Tile and Eric’s Architectural Salvage, two businesses that have shared their space on Sunset Boulevard for 25 years. They'll both be out by June 1, taking their combined shops to a new location in Westlake. Their story has a familiar tone to many Echo Park businesses shuttered in the past few years—they tell Eastsider they "really didn’t want to leave" but "couldn’t afford to stay."

But time marches on, and room must be made for progress. Continental Development Group, perhaps most famous for their failed Paseo Plaza development in East Hollywood, has bought up the properties with plans to convert the area into a "retail compound" they're calling Sunset+Mohawk. Sure, Continental could conceivably allow the exiting businesses a chance to come back once the "compound" is complete, but one look at the businesses Continental usually teams with pretty much ensures an astronomical rent increase none of the fleeing businesses could survive. Well, maybe the Starbucks inside the Lucy's could.

Few details about the Sunset+Mohawk "retail compound" have been released as of yet. Continental's website offers one small rendering, complete with new coffee shop (something Echo Park desperately needs more of!). The renovated buildings should be available for inquiring tenants to make "beautiful on the inside" by fall of this year.