Broadway-Spring Arcade: Lopez Videos

by Ashey Nash

J518: Digital

Luis and his sister Cecilia are the owners of Lopez Videos located within the Broadway-Spring Arcade building in Downtown Los Angeles. For 10 years, the two have sold Videos en Español in what used to be a prime location: less than 200 feet from the construction's entrance. However, as we conversed in Spanish, co-owner Luis Lopez shared that he and one other vendor are the only businesses left in the Broadway venture. Due to rent hikes and other environmental circumstances (alleged gentrification), many stores were unable to renew their leases. As a result, the complex has pretty much become a ghost town. But, it hasn’t always been that way.

Not even 40 years ago, the Broadway–Spring Arcade was home to several restaurants, clothing stores, jewelry shops…you name it! According to a Los Angeles Times article those businesses “were making a good living catering to the city's rising Latino immigrant community.” (Allen, 2012) From crowds following the Olympics to the boom of small businesses, Downtown Los Angeles was an appealing metropolitan area to a large and diverse crowd. Along the same lines, as Latinos emigrated into the South Los Angeles neighborhoods bordering the Downtown Los Angeles area, such as Echo Park, Pico Union, etc., jobs and commerciality were also attained.

Today, less than 10 miles away, “South Central” now referred to as “South Los Angeles” has a population that is almost 65% Latino. (Castro, 2013) Many of these residents travel downtown to pursue work in areas surrounding the Broadway-Spring Arcade (between Cesar E Chavez Avenue, 110 Freeway, Washington Boulevard and the 101 Freeway). Despite the opportunity that lies in the arcade itself, it wasn’t until six months ago that the existing 23 vendor-spaces were purchased and included in a redevelopment plan.

Formerly known as the “Mercantile Arcade Building”, the 90-year-old structure has apparently maintained some appeal with the idealistic and physical foundation of the arcade being influenced by Spanish and French culture. This element of diversity has attracted the same quality in consumers, visitors and owners throughout the years. Similarly, with King Taco and other well-known establishments on their way, it will be interesting to see if the new vendors will cater to the same “rising Latino immigrant community” and whether they’ll reach comparable success.

Sources like the Los Angeles Daily News foresee Latinos being the largest population in Los Angeles by the end of the year. But how would that affect the Broadway-Spring Arcade and its businesses? Would other populations be included on the affect of a redeveloped building and area or will those gentrified family-owned businesses, clientele and family be forced to seek work elsewhere? According to L.A. Eater’s, “the building itself still retains its original Beaux Arts and Spanish Renaissance motifs.” (Odell, 2013)

Broadway-Spring Arcade is just one of many locations receiving what is said to be a much needed facelift. As large companies and investors continue to modify DTLA architecture and commerce, gentrification occurs simultaneously. Businesses like Lopez Videos are pushed out for the well-known, lucrative launches. According to the “Neighborhood” page of the Spring-Arcade Building website, the arcade and surrounding environment are in close proximity to everything from shopping and dining to L.A. Live and Disney Hall. Will this create competition or a flow of customers? I guess we’ll have answers to these questions pretty soon with less than four months being left before the structure is updated and eventually revealed.

The Spring-Arcade Building description also mentioned, “Downtown Los Angeles has truly evolved to the ultimate live-work-play locale, pointing to the interest of stakeholders and disappearance of family-owned businesses. (Spring Arcade Building – Neighborhood, 2010)