Over the weekend I visited an organic juice bar, a yoga studio, a raw/vegan restaurant and wine bar, a wellness center, and a pop-up shop. I did it without parking my car more than once and I didn’t spend all day on foot, either. I stopped by The Springs, a multi-faceted “urban oasis” in downtown’s Arts District that has just opened to the public. Designed to be a one-stop shop for all things healthy living, the venue certainly has a lot to offer: There is an impressive organic West Coast wine list on tap, various yoga classes (including some practiced to live music) and even detox spa-like treatments such as ‘Gravity Colon Hydrotherapy,’ if that sort of thing interests you.
The Springs is the completed vision of Jared Stein, who felt there was an unanswered demand in the market for a destination where health conscious people could congregate. In 2012 he moved from New York to L.A. with his partner Kimberly Helms to get the idea off the ground. “We wanted to open The Springs in an environment that’s a bit of a food desert,” said Stein at the opening party for the property. “There’s not a lot of greenery around here and there’s not a lot of healthy food around here, so it was sort of harkening to the idea of springs—water coming forth from the ground. This is an area of health and wellness where you can go for respite, rest, and relaxation.”
Inside, concrete floors and exposed ceilings celebrate the industrial nature of the neighborhood, while The Springs’ décor is inspired by a desert camping motif (think Moonrise Kingdom). Some of the decorative pieces even come from Stein’s own home. The guitar in the corner of the lounge? It belongs to Green Day’s lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong.
“People are kind of spread out, and I think looking for places to kind of call their home, or their spot, where the servers know them and the juice bar guys says ‘hello,’” said Stein. “The Springs should feel like your own living room.”
Making that happen was no easy task, however. Co-owner Jared Stein says he wasn’t surprised when the city raised lots of concerns about the varied-purpose venue. The city was hesistant to approve of plans that allowed activities like drinking wine and exercising yoga all in one space, said Stein.
Urban planners and city officials are often criticized for allowing too many mainstream vendors to set up shop downtown. For example, a Gap Factory is opening on Broadway (near 8th street) before this holiday season, and the Wilshire Ground Tower recently announced it will house an Intercontinental Hotels and & Resorts property with more than 900 rooms. It will be the largest Intercontinental in the Americas.
Others argue that these developments bring more people to visit the downtown area—and that can only be a good thing. Despite hitting speed bumps with getting the permits he needed to open The Springs over the last few months, Stein says he’s just happy to have finally opened its doors. “Something like this hasn’t been done on this size of scale before,” he said of the development process. “If you’re breaking ground, you have to pave the way.”