C California Style

Zinc Cafe, one of Creative Space's Arts District clients.
DTLA's Stumptown Coffee Roasters. PHOTO: Chris Mueller.
Tyler Stonebreaker. Courtesy of LA Weekly.
A rendering of Hauser Wirth & Schimmel's upcoming location. Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Master Planners

by C California Style

Creative Space perfects the alchemy of urban renewal.

Have you ever wandered around a newly minted neighborhood, a former slice of urban blight that’s been resuscitated in every way, and wondered, “How did this happen?” Where there were once ominously empty warehouses, an artisanal coffee shop and an organic market suddenly appear, like a rabbit pulled out of a top hat. Tyler Stonebreaker and Michael Smith, the founders and principal partners of Creative Space, a five-year-old “integrated, forward-thinking real estate solutions company,” are here to tell you that it’s not magic, but vision, and a knack for matching the right business with the right part of town, that makes a vibrant new community come to life.

“I was working in commercial real estate, which can be very dry,” says Stonebreaker, by phone during his commute from Downtown Los Angeles to his home in the Hollywood Hills. “I took a sabbatical to figure out what I wanted to do next, since I knew it wasn’t that. There was a disconnect between what I was doing socially and what I was doing professionally. I wanted to find a way to be a part of the cultural life in Los Angeles.”

After overhearing some film industry types chatting over lattes, Stonebreaker had an epiphany and contacted his childhood friend Smith, who has a background in marketing and brand development, and is the founder and CEO of The Playlist Generation (which provides “sound curation” services to businesses around the world). The two set out to combine their expertise and start a commercial real estate business catering to the “creative cognoscenti,” he says, essentially helping idea-people continue to build their company narratives by developing a design-focused office or retail outlet.

A prime example of Creative Space’s success is the Arts District in Los Angeles. Five years ago, the neighborhood (which is shaped like an elongated trapezoid and bordered by the L.A. River to the east and Alameda Street on the west) was virtually nonexistent when they started scouting for a spot for one of their early clients, Handsome Coffee Roasters (which is now Blue Bottle Coffee). Handsome opened, and the hour-long lines started forming. Organic and sustainable grocer Urban Radish followed, as did design-savvy gift shop Poketo, and a hot spot was born.

Creative Space has expanded its reach to New York and San Francisco, where the company developed offices for Burning Man’s headquarters. Its biggest project to date, the 100,000-square-foot Hauser Wirth & Schimmel gallery and arts complex, will open around the corner from their Arts District office next year.

“Experts predict that over the next three decades, there will be a major urban surge,” says Stonebreaker. “What if we doubled the amount of people living in a city like Los Angeles by 2050? We want to come up with innovative ways to create inspiring environments for everyone.” creativespace.us

By Christine Lennon.