For several years local Iranian city employee, David Rahimian worked as the Special Assistant to L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Because of his unique background, Rahimian interacted with many L.A. based Iranian Jewish businessmen and real estate developers— including the late and respected Iranian Jewish businessman Ezat Delijani. Several months ago, Delijani, who was in his 80’s, lost his battle to cancer but his impact on the landscape of Downtown L.A. will remain forever. In preperation for my latest article, I recently sat down with Rahimian to learn more about how Delijani helped changed the face of Downtown L.A.’s various business districts and the following is a portion of that interview…
While working with the L.A. Mayor’s office, you interacted with the late Iranian Jewish leader, Ezat Delijani and others from the Delijani family who had real estate interests in Downtown L.A. Can you please shed light on how Mr. Delijani reshaped the Downtown L.A. area?
Ezat Delijani was a pioneer in our community, from early on he worked to build relationships with the elected officials of our city. He had such a great relationship with Mayor Tom Bradley that it was the mayor himself that reached out to Ezat Delijani to save the historic Los Angeles Theater from demolition. Through his tireless work, Michael Delijani led a preservation effort that brought the theater back to life, not only making it a jewel on Broadway but a proud site for all Angelinos to enjoy. The investment Ezat Delijani made in the historic area of Broadway has brought new life to an area which was stricken with graffiti and blight. The ‘Bringing Back Broadway’ effort has worked to bring all stakeholders in the area together to create a Broadway that is vibrant with businesses and patrons alike. Without the vision of the Ezat and Michael Delijani none of this would have come to fruition.
Ezat Delijani is credited for promoting the redevelopment of Downtown L.A.’s garment and jewelry districts. What was his vision and how did it change the area?
Ezat Delijani and the other Iranian Jewish business owners have transformed the area by pioneering mixed-use developments. They created livable space on top of office space on top of retail space. That same genius envisioned and eventually created the “alley” a space where open-air retail has come to life.
How have other Iranian American developers today run with Mr. Delijani’s redevelopment vision and made their own impact on the area?
Many members of our community have already stepped up to refurbish old buildings, construct apartment and condo projects, and expand existing businesses in the fashion and jewelry districts of downtown. I see a bright future where the fashion district stands. If you take the contributions of Iranian Jewish business owners and combine it with the efforts of our elected officials to grown LA Live and build a new football stadium you will see a virtual bridge between the two in the future. Already you can see increased foot traffic to businesses owned by members of our community. With the increase in bookings at the LA Convention Center the number of conventioneers visiting the area for a snippet of LA fashion has jumped. During the recent NBA All-Star weekend you couldn’t even find a place to stand in the fashion district.