A New York-based startup wants to breathe life into a beleaguered adaptive reuse project in Downtown Los Angeles, reports dot LA.

Emcee, a company which brands itself as a "social commerce platform," announced plans yesterday to buy the historic Broadway Trade Center, a 1.1-million-square-foot building at 8th Street and Broadway which dates to the early 20th century. Under the proposed arrangement, the currently vacant structure would be transformed into the “Emcee Studio."

"Tens of thousands of creators, innovators and companies collaborating and creating the future of the internet under one roof," reads a description from a landing page on the Emcee website. "The 1.2M square foot EMCEE STUDIO in DTLA offers the first and largest physical metaverse hub in the world, connecting next-gen creators and brands."

Rendering of the Broadway Trade Center as EMCEE StudioEMCEE

According to dot LA, Emcee founder John Aghayan expects the purchase of the building to close in April, after which point, the interior of the former department store would be converted to co-working spaces, retail stores, a hotel, and restaurants, all in service of the as-yet undeveloped "metaverse" platform.

Joel Schreiber, who helms current property owner Waterbridge Capital, reportedly led Emcee's $6-million seed round of funding in December 2021. The investors who are backing the acquisition of the Broadway Trade Center, as well as its expected price tag, have not been disclosed. As of late 2020, the company was seeking $425 million in a potential sale of the Broadway Trade Center.

The Broadway Trade Center, previously occupied by Hamburger's Department Store and May Company, was acquired by Waterbridge in 2015 for $130 million. In the years since, the New York-based firm has invested in structural upgrades and a renovation of the 115-year-old building's facade, but completion of a broader adaptive reuse project remains far off. Omgivning-designed plans for the Broadway Trade Center would permit up to 400,000 square feet of office space, a boutique hotel, retail space, and a more than 100,000-square-foot rooftop deck.