A cluster of former gag warehouses and other commercial buildings – near the intersection of Melrose and Western Avenues in an area known as Melrose Hill – is quietly but quickly turning into a hive of art galleries, independent retailers and inventive nightlife. Existing and incoming tenants range from acclaimed sandwich shop Ggiata and LA-based women’s clothing brand CO to blue-chip mega-dealer David Zwirner.
The agent behind it all is 32-year-old Zach Lasry, who, along with his father, Marc — the billionaire hedge fund manager, co-owner of Milwaukee Bucks and major donor to the Democratic Party — has invested in 18 properties. The son turned to real estate after acting first (he played Scott Caan’s assistant in) Entourage) and behind-the-scenes Hollywood dreams (including, early on, as 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 narrative ethos,” says the budding real estate developer. “What I’m trying to do is produce: hire people you trust, encourage collaboration, see what happens. I let tenants take the lead. That’s how most neighborhoods are [organically] develop anyway.”
Lasry’s early tenants along the stretch, which continues to be the site of high-profile sexual solicitations in the morning hours, include the Vitru workout spot, the high-design showroom Sized, and a pair of Manhattan-based galleries, Sargent’s Daughters and Shrine, which have an address. parts. Art gallery Unrepd (with clients Vanessa Hudgens and Rich Paul) has also joined the enclave in a joint space with furniture store Pop-Up Home. Unrepd co-founder Sarah Griffin notes that “the neighborhood feels a bit like New York to us, and it’s going to be a small enclave. We were looking for energy and we found it.” Gallerist David Daniels, who runs Morán Morán, which opened in 2021 in a Lasry building following his departure from West Hollywood, adds: “We felt a geographic shift eastward. Western feels more central now.”
Noah Holton-Raphael, co-owner of Ggiata, believes the newcomers share an on-the-cusp sensibility. “Everyone around is doing interesting things,” he says. Lasry notes, “The most important thing, aside from price and location and architecture, is that we want to be the right environment for whatever you’re cultivating.”
Lasry’s development partner is Tyler Stonebreaker, a broker and real estate investor who is also involved in the upcoming Color Club, a dance and live music venue along the stretch, which will also partner 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-travelling LA disco.
Lasry — who recently sold one of the family’s buildings in the area to the nonprofit LAXART (which is saying goodbye to its current Hollywood home) — is aware of the pace of his release strategy, wary that an overheated rollout could undermine the buzz. “We don’t want to lease too quickly,” he explains, “because then there is no time to see what happens.”
This story first appeared in the July 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.