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Photos: DTLA's Stodgy Macy's Fortress Gets A Cool Makeover

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Construction of The Bloc—formerly known as Macy's Plaza—is well underway. The makeover is supposed to be more pedestrian-friendly, Metro accessible and there will be some cool new tenants like the Alamo Drafthouse.

The former Macy's Plaza, a depressing fortress-like complex containing a mall, a hotel and office space built in the '70s, is well on its way to becoming an open-air, pedestrian-friendly retail center known as The Bloc. It's a $180 million renovation that includes taking down the concrete walls hiding the complex from the city and removing the roof, thus transforming the development into an accessible destination that feels part of, not separate from, the downtown streets.

Yesterday morning, crews took down the old Macy's sign and began removing the roof following comments from Councilman Jose Huizar and Wayne Ratkovich, CEO, and Clare de Briere, COO, of The Ratkovich Company, which purchased Macy's Plaza in 2013.

We went down to check out the construction and learn about the future tenants that will join anchors The Sheraton Hotel and Macy's. The Sheraton is currently being renovated so that its lobby is at street-level, and it'll also get a restaurant and bar called The District, plus upgrades to its 496 rooms. Macy's is still accessible to shoppers at this time, though it will eventually be updated and become one of the retailer's flagship locations, according to the L.A. Times.

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When completed, The Bloc will contain 442,000 square feet of retail space, plus an additional 127,000 square feet of office space. One of the most interesting things about The Bloc is that the Metro will go straight to it. What now appears to be a boring wall in the parking structure will soon give way to direct access to the nearby 7th St. Metro Center. Allan Pullman, senior principal at design firm Studio One Eleven, told LAist that Macy's Plaza was actually designed with this in mind, though developers later ditched that plan. This means pedestrians will be able to easily take the train right to The Bloc to grab a bite, catch a movie or do some shopping—instead of beginning your outing by circling around in a parking garage.

Perhaps the most exciting future tenant is Austin's Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which will not only screen first-run and indie films, but also offer craft Californian beers. Other eateries include Boston-based Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse from chef Steve DiFillipio; TLT Food, a fast-casual American restaurant; gelato-popsicle shop Popbar; organic gelato an sorbet shop N'ice Cream; DRNK coffee + tea; juice bar Robeks; and a 24-hour Starbucks.

Retail includes Macy's, of course, but adds an optometrist and eyeglasses shop, a GNC, Jewelry Pavilion, toy shop Mr. G for Toys and luxury men's shop Wingtip. There will also be a boutique and gallery for upcoming brands called Free Market. The L.A. Fitness is getting a makeover, including a new pool.

Additionally, a number of business will be taking up office space at The Bloc, including Nordstromrack.com and Hautelook.

Pullman said that they've approached The Bloc from an "anti-design" standpoint, where tenants are able to customize their retail spaces as opposed to being boxed into them.

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"We want this to be an evolving, living project," he said.

The Bloc is scheduled for completion in autumn of 2015.