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Koreatown Shopping Mall Planned : Enclosed Retail Center Viewed as Magnet for Visitors

April 21, 1985

Little Tokyo and Chinatown have a number of major shopping malls within their respective downtown centers.

Now it's the turn of the still formative Koreatown, newest of the Pacific Rim ethnic enclaves to emerge in Los Angeles.

Koreatown Plaza, a $25-million, three-level shopping mall, will be under construction late this year on a three-acre site south of Wilshire Boulevard, bounded by Western and Oxford avenues and 9th and San Marino streets.

Completion is scheduled for mid-1987 on what developer Joon Nam Yang, president of Korean Shopping Centers Inc., describes as the largest enclosed specialty and festive retail center in Koreatown. His firm already has developed one mixed-use commercial center in the area.

"Koreatown Plaza is planned to be a one-of-a-kind attraction in the community, a major visitor magnet where Korean-Americans and non-Koreans will come to shop, dine, relax, browse or meet in an atmosphere alive with vitality," Yang said.

Ki Suh Park, a native of Korea who came to the United States in the early 1950s, is partner in charge of designing Koreatown Plaza at Gruen Associates, Los Angeles-based architectural and planning firm. Park is a managing partner of Gruen Associates.

"This project will give a new, colorful dimension to Koreatown, resulting in a pedestrian-activity pattern similar to commercial developments in Chinatown and Little Tokyo, which serve not only the ethnic community but those outside of the community as well," Park said.

The design calls for a 430,000-square-foot structure with an international food court, specialty shops, restaurants, an Oriental supermarket, financial institutions and enclosed parking for 550 cars in a four-level structure on the Oxford Avenue side of the development, he added.

Escalators and an elevator at the center court will connect the center's three levels. The design will link traditional Oriental scale and massing with contemporary Western architecture, Park said. He is president of the Committee for Koreatown Community Planning and chairman of the Korean-American Institute of Architects of Southern California.

A specific plan for Koreatown, which will establish a framework for future development, is being prepared by the city of Los Angeles. Koreatown began developing in the early 1970s, centering along Western Avenue, Olympic Boulevard, 8th Street and Vermont Avenue and now numbers about 300,000 people, according to Yang.

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