The changing climate of Downtown Echo Park

2014 is a new year and a lot of changes along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. The most notable changes over the past couple of months - popular restaurants and retail businesses leaving, some of which have been around for decades. Restaurants like Barragan's, which opened in 1961 in that same spot, and, just down the road, 35-year old El Conquistador also just closed.

Some empty retail spots are finally getting some attention - a restaurant of some kind is going in to 1525 Sunset Boulevard near Laveta; it's been a few years since anything has happened there. And, despite the controversy surrounding its owners, Lassen's has started working on the former Save-a-Lot next to Walgreens on the corner of Sunset and Logan, which has been collecting dust for a couple of years now.

For those who welcome those changes, empty storefronts are never good for a neighborhood. But some neighbors aren't thrilled with the changes. Having been in Echo Park for over 30 years now, I can understand the sentimental connection for the history of the neighborhood - after all, it's home!

These are cyclical changes - sometimes painful, sometimes great. I remember going to El Studio 1 back in the day; when it closed down in the 1990s, the place just sat there for nearly 20 years. Before we knew it, it became a bustling craft beer restaurant by the name of Mohawk Bend. It's changed, but I'm glad it's no longer rotting away.

The foundation of the communities in and around Echo Park have and are still shifting; whether it be in real estate, in new restaurants, in the quality of life for our neighbors and our families. Despite the loss of many good things through these changes, as inventor Charles Kettering said, "You can't have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time."