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Produce market companies watch downtown Los Angeles evolve

Downtown Los Angeles, between the L.A. River and Alameda Street, has been undergoing an astonishing transformation in the last decade.

What was once a rough industrial zone of produce vendors, warehouses, small manufacturing businesses, abandoned buildings, and homelessness has now become a collection of pricey developments, albeit still gritty and with plenty of homeless. Lofts have become expensive homes and warehouses have been repurposed into trendy restaurants, cafes, and bars, all wrapped in a sheen of hipness.

Companies like Warner Music Group are moving from media centers such as Burbank into spaces like the former Ford plant. New York real estate firm Tishman Speyer, owner of Rockefeller Center, recently purchased three buildings to develop creative office space, all just a stone fruit’s throw from pallets of tomatoes and lettuce at the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market.

The market sits on 30 acres and there are about 60 tenants. Most of the companies have been at the location since the market opened in 1986 and nearly half are large, vertically integrated growers-shipper wholesalers with a big reach and big customers.

There is little turnover because the owners and tenants know they’re at the epicenter for trading in produce. Space is limited and rents are rising, so many newer companies seek warehouses off the market, but nearby.

Despite skyrocketing property values and occasional rumors that the partners of the property will cash out and move elsewhere, a source close to the market assures, “As expensive as it is now, the value of the Market as a produce market is far higher.”

Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market: The 411
Address: 1601 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Hours: Open for deliveries 24 hours a day; closed 12:00 am Saturday to 10:00 pm Sunday (may vary among individual companies)
Closed: New Year’s Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas

Management office hours: 7:30 am – 2:30 pm
Phone: (213) 896-4070
Executive Director: Richard Gardener

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.



Amy Sawelson Landes spent many years in advertising and marketing for the food industry; she now writes and blogs about produce.