If there’s a date that will forever haunt the westside of Los Angeles it is January 30, 1988. Karen Toshima, 27, was hit with a bullet while on the streets of Westwood. It shattered the notion that gang violence was isolated to South Central Los Angeles. It affected Westwood Village for years. Many attempts at revitalizing the village failed.
As I researched this post, I found an article that as recently as last year Westwood attempted to follow Downtown LA’s lead and reposition itself as an arts destination. As I look around the area, I think that idea hasn’t stuck.
Along comes retailer Urban Outfitters. The Philadelphia-based retailer is renovating a former Tower Records building on 1038 Westwood Blvd into a new flagship storefront. It will be double the size of its current operations down the street at 1500 Westwood Blvd. Advocates are hopeful that the retailer’s commitment to the area sparks activity that Westwood hasn’t seen in a long time.
Their wishes maybe slowly coming true. While construction is underway for the new Urban Outfitters property, vacant storefronts now have “coming soon” signs attached to their windows. Ralph’s opened at a shuttered Bullock’s property. Target opened a location nearby. Newly opened restaurants have lines snaking outside their doors on busy lunch hours. A new development is being erected on the corner of Gayley and Lindbrook Ave. I’m curious as to what the finished construction will bring.
While Westwood Village may never regain what was lost that fateful January 1988 night, I am certain that the area is getting its groove back. Other areas (Santa Monica 3rd St. Promenade, The Grove at Farmer’s Market, and Culver City) may have replaced Westwood as a nightlife destination. However, Westwood is slowly making its comeback and will soon be a player in competing for Angeleno’s hard earned spending cash.