Urban Outfitters to open in historic downtown LA

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Urban Outfitters said it will open a store inside a long-vacant theater in a historic section of downtown Los Angeles at the end of the year. 

The Philadelphia-based retailer, known for its hip clothing and kitschy gifts, will move into the Rialto Theatre on Broadway. The 10,000 square-foot theater attracted hundreds of people who would line up to see silent films there when it opened in the 1920s.  The growth of freeways and suburban malls led to the Rialto's closure in the 1970s.

Urban Outfitters has been scouting possible store locations in downtown L.A. for several years, said John Hauser, its chief officer of brand experience.

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"The Rialto movie palace building still has incredible character — you can feel the history when you are there," Hauser said in a statement. "Urban is excited to be on Broadway and to be a part of the revitalization." 

The store will employ about 40 people. The Rialto's lobby had been used by small vendors selling items such as suitcases, but the rest has been empty since the 1970s.  Most of the interior was destroyed during the Northridge earthquake.

Urban Outfitters' arrival is part of an effort led by L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar to bring more retailers back to the historic Broadway corridor, which runs from 2nd Street to Olympic Boulevard. Vacancies in the area have dropped from 20 percent in 2008 to about 15 percent now, Huizar said in an interview with KPCC in March.

Huizar launched the initiative, called Bringing Back Broadway, about five years ago. Since then, the Ace Hotel, Swedish clothing store Acne, several restaurants and other businesses have moved to the area. A Ross Dress for Less opened inside a former Woolworth's department store on Broadway earlier this year.

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