Abbot Kinney is the subject of an LA Times cover article by Martha Groves today. The article is a well written piece, but won’t offer up anything new to anyone that has lived in Venice for over 5 years or so.
Picture by Bruce C.
When reporters for national magazines and tourists from around the world recently began showing up on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, veteran shopkeepers saw the attention as validation that they had turned the once-desolate stretch into a hip strip.
Now, however, that pride over what GQ magazine called “the Coolest Block in America” has turned to anxiety for some longtime merchants and residents who say Abbot Kinney is getting too posh for its pants. The arty, indie fare that used to dominate the boulevard is being replaced by $1,400 handbags and $600 boots from Italy.
Developers have bought and razed or renovated Abbot Kinney buildings, including vintage bungalows that had housed holdouts from the street’s rougher days. Rents for some storefronts have doubled or tripled, and retailers and cafe owners have hired valet companies to ease the parking crunch.
Modish chain stores with distressed-wood floors and subdued lighting have replaced pioneering shops such as Surfing Cowboys and Jin Patisserie, which have relocated to more affordable digs in Mar Vista and Culver City or are eyeing emergent Rose Avenue in Venice.
The wildly successful bistro Gjelina — no substitutions, even for you, Robert Downey Jr. (who owns a Modernist house up the street) — is building another eatery on the boulevard and a bakery nearby. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to turn the former Broadway Gymnastics building at the corner of Main Street into his office and a small restaurant. And local developers have proposed a boutique hotel that would incorporate Joe’s and Primitivo restaurants.
An upgrade was inevitable, given the street’s location and the area’s favorably evolving demographics, including the arrival of Google and other Silicon Beach companies.
“But now,” said Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin, who lives in neighboring Mar Vista, “it may be at risk of being a victim of its own success.”
Some sense in the offing a replay of familiar flame-outs such as once hot and now not so much Melrose and Montana avenues.
“More and more every day, it feels like Abbot Kinney is separating itself from the neighborhood,” said Marta Evry, a longtime resident. “It’s a street for tourists, people from outside the area, but not a street for the people who live here.”
To continue reading the entire article at the LA Times, please click here! There is a lot more to read and a video too!