Wilshire La Brea's retail anchor is Lassen's Natural Foods and Vitamins.

LOS ANGELES—Boutique grocery stores are continuing to penetrate urban market areas. The latest example, Lassen’s Natural Foods and Vitamins has signed a 12,000-square-foot lease at Wilshire La Brea, a new mixed-use complex in Miracle Mile. The new location is part of Lassen’s expansion in the Southern California market, and will be its 11th location.

“Lassen’s is our anchor, and it was really important to us as an amenity both to the community and to the residents,” Timothy Bower, CBRE SVP, tells GlobeSt.com. Bower represented the landlord, Essex Property Trust, in the transaction, while illi Commercial Real Estate represented Lassen’s. “The developer surveyed the residents in their projects throughout California, and the number one retail request they had was for a grocery store. So, this was at the top of our list,” Bower adds.

Boutique grocery stores, especially those peddling organic or locally sourced ingredients, are becoming increasingly popular especially in urban markets, and Bower says that it is all driven by increased demand and awareness of eating healthier foods. “There is huge growth in the demand for organic and natural foods and that is driven by the demographic in these urban areas,” he explains. “As this demand has risen, there has become an opportunity for these smaller formats to come in and penetrate these markets.”

GlobeSt.com has reported this demand through the increase of Gelson’s Markets springing up through the L.A. area; however, the Wilshire La Brea property’s smaller space presents a unique expansion opportunity for even smaller chains. “In a situation, like us, where there isn’t enough space for a full-size organic market, these smaller boutiques have the opportunity to come in, tap the demand and get market share. It is interesting because you are seeing a lot of that going around with all of these little boutiques,” he says.”

Located at 5200 Wilshire Blvd., the property has 478 luxury units and 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Bower points out that there is the potential for 800 to 1000 new residents and a void for this type of health-centered grocery in the market. “We took a look a mile around the Beverly Center and a mile around Wilshire La Brea. Income levels are very similar, but median age is almost 10 years younger; so, it is a great demographic, and it is that demographic that really craves a healthy lifestyle, which is why this is such a great fit,” he says. Lassen’s is the first retail tenant CBRE has signed, but Bower is in negotiations with several other restaurants and retail owners.