The Flower Market was founded in 1909, by Japanese-American flower growers, and harkens back to a time when the city had a significant agricultural component. It is a beloved cultural institution and has a long history in downtown Los Angeles. It was first opened downtown in 1914 and then in 1923 moved to its current location at 7th and Wall Street. Ownership is through a consortium of families (a shareholder collective) that have a small stake in the business. Many of the shareholders are descended from the vendors who founded the market more than a century ago. The collective aspect allowed the Japanese American business owners to band together and have a stronger voice, and to help survive challenges such as those that occurred during World War II, when tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The shareholders envision a project that will preserve and retain the historic Flower Market and also transform it for the next 100 years.
The current space is a bustling marketplace where vendors sell flowers wholesale and retail, mainly in the early morning hours and consists of two two-story buildings on a nearly four-acre site. The existing buildings that they are operating out of are outdated and in need of "constant repair." Having been at the current location for almost 100 years, the facilities are in need of constant maintenance. Looking to the future, the Flower Market’s owners have embarked on a redevelopment and addition to their physical plant which entails the adaptive reuse of one building and the addition of new parking, commercial space and 323 dwelling units in a 15-story concrete frame residential tower. The 568,000 sq. ft. $170 mil. development is scheduled to be completed in 2020.
Next to the residential tower, the upgraded market building would have space at street level for flower vendors to continue their sales operations, plus parking and office space above that. Amenities, including a public event space, will be located on top of the renovated building’s parking space.
Dwelling units consist of traditional loft-style design with open floor plans and flats; all units have views to towards the city to the north and south. The exterior of the structure is skinned in a corrugated aluminum screen which will be anodized bright blue, yellow and green, honoring the beauty of the flower itself and will create a beacon for this part of the city. The renovated concrete building will be covered in flower-themed murals. The building will be both performative (environmentally efficient) and beautiful.