Though Kaiser Permanente is known for its massive medical facilities in neighborhoods including Los Feliz and West Los Angeles, the Oakland-based health system has been branching out with smaller offices such as one it opened last month in Bunker Hill.

Occupying more than 10,000 square feet in the Bank of America building, the new Downtown L.A. Hope Street Medical Office features a primary care center and occupational medicine suite whose services include family and internal medicine, women’s health care, physical therapy, a nurse’s clinic as well as lab and imaging capabilities.

“We estimate that about 40,000 to 44,000 patients who belong to Kaiser live or work in the downtown area,” said internist Kim Tran, the physician in charge of the Hope Street location. “It makes sense to have a small clinic in the community to serve those patients.”

Keeping in mind the early hours many of those patients keep, the Bunker Hill Kaiser office operates from 7 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

“It’s extremely important for us to be able to see patients where they live and play rather than patients having to come to a hub,” Tran said.

This marks the first time the health provider has had a downtown L.A. outpost in decades, having closed a Chinatown office in the early 1980s. At that time, the view was that patients should come to the medical centers, which feature hospitals and more specialized care, Tran said.

“Now I think that with the changing environment in health care, Kaiser Permanente just wanted to provide convenience and quality care to our patients who may live or work in the area,” she said, adding that just a decade ago a lot of downtown was empty. “Now, you drive to the Staples Center and that area, you see a lot of apartments and condos and lofts being built.”

Industrial Slump

While downtown Los Angeles is in the midst of a renaissance, the Industrial District – a 40-block, 260-acre geographic area – is still facing a number of physical and financial challenges.

According to a study released late last year by the Central City East Association in conjunction with downtown design and planning firm Aecom, the district’s economic prospects have dwindled in recent years while its homeless problem has grown.

For instance, the study says many manufacturing and seafood businesses have been leaving for neighboring cities such as Vernon, which have more favorable tax rates.

The study also says the Industrial District’s 9 percent job growth rate since 2002 trails the 17 percent growth seen in downtown as a whole. In addition, its 5,600 jobs account for only 2 percent of the jobs in downtown even though it takes up about 10 percent of downtown in terms of physical space.

While the study does not endorse a specific course of action, it does offer a variety of plans to help alleviate those problems. Some of the suggestions include focusing development on major east-west corridors such as Fourth or Sixth streets in order to bring in restaurants, shops and housing, and preserving large industrial parcels for “transformational, once-in-a-generation” projects.

The study also calls on the city to consider diversifying the district’s housing policy. While 4,000 people live there, residential zoning is not permitted except through adaptive reuse of existing eligible buildings.

As for Skid Row, the study notes that the Industrial District should keep its homeless service sites but it should not be the city’s sole regional provider.

South Park Opening

Olive DTLA, a $56.4 million mixed-use project in downtown’s burgeoning South Park neighborhood, is on pace to be the first new residential complex to come to market since the recent development boom began in the area.

The builder, Bernards of San Fernando, topped out Olive DTLA late last month, meaning the project’s seven stories have taken shape and the firm is now finishing construction on the exterior walls.

At the corner of Olive Street and Pico Boulevard, Olive DTLA will include 293 apartment units and 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

Wolff Co. of Scottsdale, Ariz., owns the property and tapped Bernards to build it. Olive DTLA is scheduled to open in August.

“Our client was ahead of the curve … in this South Park gateway neighborhood, enabling them to start construction first in this current wave of development,” said Jocelyn Topolski, Bernards director of business development.

Bernards is also building Wolff’s G12 complex, which sits immediately West of Olive DTLA at the corner of Grand Avenue and 12th Street.

G12, a $63.8 million project with 347 apartment units and 19,000 square feet of retail space, is expected to top out soon, too, and should open by February of next year.

Staff reporters Marni Usheroff and Cale Ottens contributed to this column. #DTLA is compiled by Managing Editor Omar Shamout. He can be reached at oshamout@labusinessjournal.com.

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