A cluster of former prop warehouses and other commercial buildings — near the intersection of Melrose and Western avenues in an area known as Melrose Hill — is quietly yet quickly turning into a hive of art galleries, indie retailers and inventive nightlife. Existing and incoming tenants range from acclaimed sandwich shop Ggiata and L.A.-based womenswear brand CO to blue-chip megadealer David Zwirner.
The impresario behind it all is 32-year-old Zach Lasry, who along with his father, Marc — the billionaire hedge fund manager, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner and major Democratic Party donor — has invested in 18 properties. The son turned to real estate after first pursuing acting (he played Scott Caan’s assistant on Entourage) and behind-the-scenes Hollywood dreams (including, early on, as a PA in the camera department for The Wolf of Wall Street).
“I wanted to bring my filmmaking lens to real estate — to approach it with a storytelling ethos,” says the budding real estate developer. “What I’m attempting to do is like producing: Hire people you trust, encourage collaboration, see what happens. I’m letting tenants lead the way. That’s how most neighborhoods [organically] develop, anyway.”
Lasry’s early tenants along the stretch, which remains the site of conspicuous sex solicitation in the morning hours, include workout spot Vitru, high-design showroom Sized and a pair of Manhattan-based galleries, Sargent’s Daughters and Shrine, which share an address. Unrepd art gallery (whose clients have included Vanessa Hudgens and Rich Paul) also has joined the enclave in a joint space with furnishings store Pop-Up Home. Unrepd co-founder Sarah Griffin notes that the “neighborhood feels a little bit like New York to us, and it’s going to be a little enclave. We were looking for energy, and we found it.” Adds gallerist David Daniels, who runs Morán Morán, which opened in 2021 in a Lasry building after departing West Hollywood: “We’d been feeling a geographic shift east. Western feels more central right now.”
Noah Holton-Raphael, co-owner of Ggiata, believes the new arrivals share an on-the-cusp sensibility. “Everyone who’s in the neighborhood is doing interesting shit,” he says. Notes Lasry: “The pitch, aside from price and location and architecture, is that we want to be the right environment for whatever you’re cultivating.”
Lasry’s development associate is Tyler Stonebreaker, a real estate broker and investor who’s also involved in the forthcoming Color Club, a dance and live-music venue along the stretch whose other partners include artists Simon and Niki Haas, photographer Mason Poole and ceramicist Kevin Willis. “We’re inspired by places like Giorgio’s,” says Stonebreaker, referring to Bryan Rabin’s now-itinerant L.A. disco.
Lasry — who recently sold one of the family’s area buildings to art-world nonprofit LAXART (which is saying goodbye to its current home in Hollywood) — is cognizant of the pacing of his release strategy, wary that an overheated rollout might undercut buzz. “We don’t want to lease up too fast,” he explains, “because then there isn’t time to see what happens.”
This story first appeared in the July 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.