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Eastern Columbia Lofts
849 S Broadway
Los Angeles CA 90014
Eastern Columbia Lofts is a Historic High-rise in the financial district of Downtown. Built in 1930, Eastern Columbia has a rich history. If you dig Eastern Columbia lofts you might also want to check out nearby Historic Highrise Rowen Lofts.
Eastern Columbia is easy to spot- with its bright jewel tone Turquoise and gold leaf terra cotta exterior. Talk about Opulent! Eastern Columbia is one of the finest Art Deco buildings in all of Los Angeles, and the only one that you can own as private residences.
The high-rise art deco tower is 13 stories tall, providing gratifying views of the downtown skyline from inside and from the rooftop deck and pool area. The building was converted to Condos in 2006 by Kor Group. There are 147 condos total. Kilfer Fleming was the architect for the project and Kelly Wearstler did the interior designing. $80 million dollars was spent modernizing and upgrading the building. The renovations restored original elements and infused them with modern amenities. I think the developer did a good job of harmonizing the renovations with the overall spirit of the building.
Today, Eastern Columbia lofts dazzles anew and offers owners a unique downtown living experience.
Eastern Columbia lofts is located at the corner of Broadway and W 9th St. It’s on Broadway. When Eastern Columbia lofts opened, buyers came for the building, but now the neighborhood is becoming the selling point.
Downtown’s Broadway has had its ups and downs.
In the 1920s and 30s, Broadway was in its halcyon days. You didn’t see horse drawn carriages anymore, the traffic had mechanized. Pedestrians, motorcars and electric streetcar shuffled passed each other between gridlocks. The Broadway theater district was the entertainment center of the city. There were twelve grandiose theaters on Broadway between 3rd street and Olympic boulevard:
Million Dollar Theater – 307 S Broadway (open)
The Roxie (closed) 518 S Broadway
Cameo (closed) 528 S Broadway
Arcade (closed) 534 S Broadway
Los Angeles Theater(open) 615 S Broadway
Palace Theater (open) 630 S Broadway
State Theater (closed) 703 S Broadway
Globe Theater (open) 744 S Broadway
Tower Theater (open) 802 S Broadway
Rialto Theater (urban outfiiter) 812 S Broadway
Orpheum Theater (open) 842 S Broadway
United Artist Theater (open ACE HOTEL) 929 S Broadway
These theaters attracted millions of visitors each year. Like its new York city namesake, LA’s Broadway was jumping with vaudeville acts, plays, musical performances and later black and white movie screenings.
However during the great depression Broadway fell on hard times. Downtown Los Angeles went into a steady decline and by the 1950’s the city had moved West. Century City and West Los Angeles in the 1960’s took many businesses away from downtown’s business district. Westwood Village and the Beverly Center attracted shoppers away from Downtown. Chinese Grauman Theater and Hollywood took away traffic from the theaters.
In addition there was a real smog problem in Los Angeles from 1960 -1980 that was especially bad downtown. By the 1980’s beleaguered and blighted Broadway was downright dangerous and scary. The once beautiful theaters were either closed, demolished, or converted to other uses like flea markets, discotechs or churches.
In the past 10 years downtown has made a real comeback. But the dream of making it big on Broadway has remained elusive. This is somewhat on an enigma when the surrounding areas on Spring and Main in Downtown have improved much faster.
The City Council passed the Bringing Back Broadway initiative, reinvesting $40M into Broadway. But if you walk on Broadway today, you will see that many buildings are boarded up, have broken windows, and graphitti still remains. The street level vendors are low income electronics, clothing, and jewelry stores. In an La Times article interviewing one of the local small business owners on broadway about the recent changes, he remarked that he thinks the changes are good, however the new crowd that’s moving in probably doesn’t want his business.
There are rumors floating around that a streetcar will return to broadway, but I don’t expect to see one anytime soon, because the cost estimate to build one is around $350M.
Encouraging Signs of Broadway’s Comeback
The biggest story is the neighborhood is the Ace Hotel that opened in 2014. It took over the old United Artists theater. This hipster hotspot is making Broadway feel young and cool again! They restored the 1,600 seat theater, which now has regular performances, and have a rooftop pool and tasty restaurant.
The Orpheum theater underwent a $3.5M renovation in 2001 and now has regular shows of things you’d actually want to see. The lineup is totally eclectic so it will always keep you guessing who might play there next. I love the Neon Billboard on it’s roof. It’s right across the street from Eastern Columbia so you get a very good view of this attractive building.
Urban Outfitters moved into the old Rialto theater. They totally gutted the inside so the walls are exposed brick, and the ceilings are exposed wood rafters. The lifestyle brand has a very hip clientele and has a reputation along with the ace hotel for being a Pioneer, opening up stores in edgy up and coming neighborhoods. UO sells records, clothing, and shoes.
The long awaited reopening of a downtown classic, Clifton’s, finally happened in 2015. The new owner spent $10M on renovations and it took him 5 years to finish. Clifton’s is not your normal restaurant- it has a giant faux redwood tree INSIDE and a waterfall. It’s a must see for anyone spending the day Downtown. Grab something from the deli counter!
Opened 2015 at Grand and 8th. Property values always go up when whole foods moves in. Now you’ve got another grocery shopping choice in addition to 7th and Fig
Yes Broadway still has some rough edges, but change is happening. Some day all the old theaters will be reopened and Broadway will be back.
Mr. Sieroty wanted to make a statement with Eastern Columbia and he certainly did. This project was the crown jewel in his 29 store department chain, and the culmination of an entire career. Eastern Columbia opened in 1930, when Mr Sieroty was 54. He passed away just seven years later in 1937.
Sieroty hired local architect Claud Beelman to design his new flagship store. Beelman might at first glance seem to be a strange choice, because Beelman’s previous projects were all Beaux Arts commercial buildings (Barker Bros. Building, Roosevelt Building, Elks Lodge, Pershing Square Building). By the early 1930’s downtown was getting overrun by Beaux Art buildings and they were all starting to blend together in a muted putty symphony of stone. I think Beelman was just as sick of Beaux Arts as Sieroty was. Beelman had already started experimenting with Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles.
Eastern Columbia Lofts has an “East Coast” kind of vibe. In 1929, Sieroty sent Beelman on a field trip to the east coast to search for ideas. Beelman traveled to New York, Boston, Detroit and other Eastern cities to come up with ideas for a new distinctive building. I have no evidence that Beelman visited Radiator Building (1924) in New York by Raymond Hood, but I can see a strong resemblance with Eastern Columbia.
Beelman designed a handful of other art deco buildings during this time. The Garfield Building (1928), the Jewelry Center (1931) and 9th & Broadway (1930). Eastern Columbia is his finest Art Deco design.
Eastern Columbia Lofts is a personal statement from Mr Sieroty. Mr. Sieroty was a shrewd business man, and was constantly thinking of new ways to promote his brands: Eastern Outfitting Company (Furniture Sales) & Columbia Outfitting company (Clothing Sales). I think he understood that building a store that was bold and daring would attract customers- at the time there was local competition from bigger brand-name’s like May Co., Desmonds, and Bullocks.
The most noticeable feature of Eastern Columbia is its brilliant and colorful Turquoise and Gold facade. Sieroty had guts to approve this bold color. It must have caused quite a stir when it finished. Eastern Columbia is frequently photographed and is one of the most adored buildings in Los Angeles.
One of my favorite features of Eastern Columbia is the two story arcade at the entrance. Adolph Sieroty name is proudly placed on the lintel above the doorway. He was proud of this building. The Golden Sunburst, zigzags, and chevrons at the entry give me the feeling that I am entering some sort of temple whenever I go in.
Sieroty’s retail empire had humble beginnings. It started from a single Clock Shop on Spring Street in 1892 called ‘the Eastern Clock Company”. One of the most striking features of Eastern Columbia design is the Clock Tower. Sieroty pays homage to his first clock shop with the Clock Tower on top of Eastern Columbia.
Sieroty may have taken notice of the clock tower from Tower Theater (1927) just up the street, which was completed 3 years earlier. However, Sierotys Clock is on a completely different level, literally. Some wonder how Sieroty pulled the clock tower off. Los Angeles had a 150 feet height restriction on all buildings downtown, until 1956. Eastern Columbia lofts is 264 feet above the street, 114 feet above the height limit.
Sieroty must have known the right people in the right places to get around the height restriction. He was a socialite and booster. He was a member of the Jonathan Club, Los Angeles Club, Wilshire Country Club, and Los Angeles Country Club. You can bet he had connections at city hall that allowed him to surpass the pre-war 150 foot height limit with his clocktower, so long as it wasn’t used for livable space. Consequently until the 1950’s Eastern Columbia was one of the tallest buildings downtown, only smaller than city hall (454 ft).
I’m a Huell Howser fan, and he did a wonderful tour of this Eastern Columbia when the conversion was completed in 2007. Worth a watch:
Eastern Columbia condos are true lofts. They have no wall or door on the bedroom. Some owners install dividing walls to define their bedroom space and create privacy. Condos originally sold with exposed concrete floors. You can customize the look and feel of the flooring by choosing a custom stain or acid wash.
Some owners have instead installed wood floors. Layouts are almost all single story, so no stairs. Square Footage is at a premium downtown, so the majority of the condos in Eastern Columbia are 800 sqft-1,200 sqft that are ideal for a 1 bedroom layout. Prices go up as you go higher, and by the size of the condo. Condos are selling between $700,000 and $1,000,000. The Larger condos are 1,200-1,600 sqft, there are about 40 of them of the 147 so they come up less often. There are 5 penthouses with average size of 2,500 sqft. A celebrity bought all the Penthouses from the Developer. Penthouses have a townhouse style layout.
The Developer did a great job on the Kitchens and Bathrooms. Each condo has a Modern kitchen with Quartz countertops and European style cabinets and stainless steel appliances. The Bathrooms are great especially if you like to take baths. There are large soaking tubs with a tub deck that gives you a lot of space for setting candles, bath soaps, reading glasses etc. I love the vintage penny round tile.
This building has so many windows which means great natural light. Many of the original metal casement windows were saved- and what is unique is that they fully open and close, so you can get good air circulation. The condo’s have 11 foot ceilings for plenty of room to think.
Condos that face West or North have small balconies. Most condo’s don’t have a balcony. Washer Dryer in unit. Wired for internet and cable.
Eastern Columbia has some hotel-like amenities that makes it feel like you are on vacation!
By far and away the best amenity is the Rooftop pool area!
The Private Rooftop Pool area, has a big open area with reclining lounge chairs and multiple umbrellas perfect for some sun worshiping or an evening dip. The Pool is 3 feet deep and long enough to swim laps. There is a Outdoor gas fireplace that makes this space dynamic at night. The is also a spa. The best part of the rooftop pool area is the mesmerizing views of Downtown Skyline.
Nothing is more convenient than having a Fitness center on site. There are quite a few great gyms downtown, but if you don’t consider yourself a fitness buff- or maybe you are a fitness buff but sometimes its just good to have a backup, the fitness center has your daily exercise regime covered. All the Equpiment is new and it has a good mix between aerobic elypicals and treadmills and weight-resistance equipment.
For condo buildings, I am big on a lobby. It’s important to make a good impression, especially for Higher price point buildings. An attractive lobby can raise the resale value of the building. The Lobby in Eastern Columbia does not disappoint. The original terrazzo from the sidewalk flows in from the street to flooring of the lobby. Rows of Antiqued mirrors and Gilded ceilings riff on the Art Deco themes of the building. There is a large sitting area that is tastefully furnished with a copious amount of tables and chairs.
Let’s face it, you can never have enough storage. Each Condo comes with a storage space on the second floor.
Eastern Columbia Lofts is very dog friendly. There are no restrictions on size or breed, the only rule is a maximum of two 2 pets.
Downtown Parking sucks. You have to pay $10 or $15 to park in a private lot, meters are very tough to get, and you have to be careful to watch the time so when rush hour comes and you have to move your car,, you don’t get towed. And with all the parking lots being snatched up by developers lately, parking isn’t getting any easier. Every condo comes with at least 1 parking space, the larger condos have two. The parking is assigned parking in a private garage. The price for the parking spot is covered in the HOA dues. It is possible to rent an extra space at an additional cost.
Eastern Columbia Lofts has a very organized and active HOA. The HOA has their own website:
HOA Dues range from $800-$1,000 a month. Not a bad price for all the amenities. Keep in mind since the building has a Mills Act , you get significant savings on your property tax which lowers the overall cost of ownership.
HOA dues include: Water, trash, A/C and building insurance, Window Washing
Owner is responsible for: Condo Insurance, Electricity, Gas, Internet, Cable
Legal Note: The HOA is currently in mediation with the developer over construction defects. The defects concern only the common areas, and not inside individual condo units. The areas under investigation are the building exterior, the plumbing and electrical. This lawsuit makes it difficult to finance currently until it is resolved. It is important to note that the building is safe, usable and accessible.
HOA Contact Information:
Action Property Management
Phone: (800) 400-2284
Fax: (949) 450-0303
2603 Main Street, Suite 500
Irvine, CA 92614