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Monday, May 23, 2022

Jewelry Maker to Polish Up Downtown L.A. Property

A dilapidated downtown L.A. building is about to get a sparkly makeover.

Local jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino and her husband and business partner, Alfonso Campos, announced Feb. 1 that they bought a building in downtown’s historic Theatre District. They said they plan to turn the decades-vacant space into a “Sparkle Factory” that will house the entire design and production teams of Tarina Tarantino Designs.

The soon-to-be Sparkle Factory is a seven-story structure at 908 S. Broadway. It was built in 1914 and designed by Meyer & Holler, the architecture firm known for its work on Hollywood landmarks such as Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian theaters. Tarantino said one of the reasons she was drawn to the building was because its decorative façade resembles the tiara of a princess.

The 23,800-square-foot space first housed L.L. Burns’ Western Costume Co., which outfitted screen and stage actors in cowboy and Indian garb. When Tarantino and Campos are done refurbishing the space, there will be a 3,000-square-foot boutique on the ground floor, an art exhibition space that Tarantino will curate on the second floor and a number of creative office spaces she will rent out on the midlevel floors. She plans to reserve the top few levels for Tarina Tarantino’s design headquarters, as well as for marketing and production studios. She plans to design and manufacture all of her jewelry and handbag collections at the Sparkle Factory.

Tarantino and Campos purchased the historic building in 2007 for about $4 million but are only now moving forward on construction to refurbish the historic space. That’s because when they bought the property, the economy was beginning to collapse and they couldn’t get loans for construction. They were finally able to secure a $350,000 loan from the Valley Economic Development Center in Van Nuys from money the non-profit received as part of a Goldman Sachs small-business loan fund. The loan was the first of its kind for a business on Broadway.

‘Quite an investment’

Kent Smith, executive director of the L.A. Fashion District, the area’s business improvement district, said Tarantino’s presence will go a long way to revitalize downtown.

“The fact that she bought the building, that’s quite an investment,” Smith said. “We couldn’t ask her for a bigger vote of confidence in the district.”

Tarina Tarantino Designs began in 1995 when Tarantino made and sold jewelry out of her home. Business grew quickly and in a few years she was working out of a small design studio in West Hollywood. Today, she works out of a showroom in the downtown Fashion District, and sells her jewelry in stores throughout Los Angeles; New York; and Milan, Italy.

When the dust settles at the Sparkle Factory, Tarantino said the project will create more than 60 full-time jobs at Tarina Tarantino. The building’s offices and creative work spaces, when fully leased, should sustain 90 more.

Tarantino said the building designs are nearly final and that construction will begin in the coming months. She hopes to move into the space this summer, though Smith said he expects construction could take longer.

“It’s still probably a year away,” he said.

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