Platform, an exciting mixed use development located in the Hayden Tract neighborhood of Culver City, is an inspiriting example of a thoughtful urban development done right. Refreshingly, the project feels more equally balanced than most between a passion project by its founders and one rooted in the cold hard commercial reality of making a buck. Shoppers making the trek will be pleased to discover a unique environment featuring inspiring high-end boutique retail, superb food offerings with a commitment to high quality sourcing practices, cool creative office housing a handful of creative tenants, a Soul Cycle fitness studio and a 5,000 square foot dedicated event space dubbed the Greenhouse. All of this is fully integrated amidst a 4-acre campus long on site specific landscaping and charming shaded seating vignettes that enhance the experience throughout. In certain ways, Platform is reminiscent of the Malibu Country Mart albeit a considerably more urban, indie, progressive version.
The young developers, David Fishbein and Joey Miller of Runyon Group, deserve credit for identifying and ultimately selling a tenant base that truly differentiates and elevates Platform in an otherwise uninspired sea of sameness that typically dots the LA retail landscape. Undoubtedly this was not an easy sales job as the location is not obvious for high-end retail in particular and enjoys almost no organic foot traffic. Perhaps this is why the developers were successful signing many out of town tenants as opening a business at Platform requires a vision of the future of LA rather than an audit of the past.
Messrs. Fishbein and Miller also deserve recognition for guiding an aesthetic vision that’s handsome, unique, progressive, and self-assured. The x factor that takes the visual on the sprawling site to the next level is the Metro Expo Train line that practically runs overhead and conveniently stops directly across Washington Blvd. The mere presence of the elevated light rail line subtly charges the site with an urban energy and challenges visitors to consider an evolving Los Angeles.
Everyone will have their favorite shops. Mine are Magasin, Loqui, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, and Blue Bottle Coffee. Magasin, a multi line menswear boutique by fashionable New Yorkers Josh Peskowitz, Simon Golby, and Christophe Desmaison, features under the radar casual yet sophisticated offerings from harder to find small to mid size Italian, Japanese and American brands. In a time when the traditional model of retail fashion is in frightful decline, Magasin addresses the why with exceptional buys and merchandizing based primarily on Peskowitz’s gut that ultimately succeed in pushing the fashion story of Los Angeles forward. Across the courtyard, Loqui, a modern Baja taqueria with partners from Mexico City and San Francisco, delivers the best mushroom taco in a spare yet thoughtful environment that evolves the narrative of the taco joint into 2016 while keeping it real. Van Leeuwen Ice Cream has traveled a long way from its humble beginning as a yellow truck that use to patrol the streets of New York to arrive at Platform. All the ice creams are made from scratch in Greenpoint, Brooklyn that ultimately brings to mind the words of NY based rapper/chef Action Bronson, “F*ck that’s Delicious.” Calling all young families who live in Culver City, this is your spot on a warm summer night. No surprises with Blue Bottle Coffee making the list. Despite its predictable private equity co. fueled rollout, the espresso’s still sublime.
Typically a depressing prospect and energy suck in an around Los Angeles, parking at Platform’s a breeze with the adjacent dedicated structure that’s actually pleasant to look at, thanks to LA based muralist Jen Stark, as well as to navigate. The structure blends seamlessly into the site owning its functional mission with grace while getting a few style points by leaning into the street art trend.
In the end, a development project like Platform is for the bold with conviction playing the long game so hats off to the tenants who believed in what could be and the guys who delivered.