Meet the Founders of Launch DTLA
Nicolo Rusconi, Justin Weiss, Azzi Kashani, Paul Vizcaino, Mitch Carricart
Reserve your spot on the exclusive Launch DTLA invite list to be one of the first to discover and experience new DTLA venues.
1. JUSTIN WEISS
Launch DTLA Founder
With a six-and-a-half-year track record as a Downtown Los Angeles market expert, Justin, has facilitated hundreds of real estate transactions. During his five-year tenure as the Associate Director of Economic Development for the Downtown Center Business Improvement District and Central City Association, Justin was successful in recruiting hundreds of retailers, developers, office tenants and residents to DTLA. He also played an active role in laying the political groundwork for Downtown’s renaissance.
Justin’s accomplishments in Economic Development range from the recruitment of large scale hotels, creative office tenants, and national retailers to small mom and pop boutiques. Notable Downtown deals that Justin helped facilitate include City Target, Bottega Louie, Urtth Café, and The Ace Hotel. Along with his impressive roster of retail and office recruits, Justin has also helped over twenty developers secure equity and/or debit financing for their multi-family and creative office properties.
In addition, Justin worked directly with the City of Los Angeles to develop important initiatives geared towards increasing Downtown’s quality of life for office tenants, residences, and employees. These include the Downtown Demographic Survey, Downtown’s Hail A Taxi Initiative, 7th Street Restaurant Row Evolution, Bringing Back Broadway, Restaurant & Hospitality Express Program, and Red Line Nights.
2. PAUL VIZCAINO
Launch DTLA Founder
Paul founded and serves as President & CEO of Urban Strategy (USG), a public affairs consulting firm specializing in government relations, community affairs, and political consulting. With more than 15 years of experience working in federal, state, and local politics and experience in political campaign management and community organizing, Paul Vizcaino provides the strategic insight and a proven track record needed to ensure the successful development and growth of our clients’ projects.
Prior to founding USG, Paul served as one of two Partners at Pacific Strategy Group. Pacific Strategy Group is the California branch of the United States Strategy Group, a national government relations firm with 18 offices in 12 states, including the District of Columbia. Paul’s work resulted in the successful completion of many advocacy projects and campaigns, including the successful historic re-election campaign for the Premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell, in May 2009.
Before joining Pacific Strategy Group, Paul worked for Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar as the Community Affairs Director. In this position, Paul served as a member of the Council Member’s Executive Committee and worked closely with city departments and agencies to advance the Councilmember’s comprehensive and ambitious agenda for the 14th Council District. Additionally, Paul worked to elect Councilmember Huizar to his first full-term by the largest margin of victory in over four decades.
Prior to joining Council District 14, Paul worked as the National Director of Development for the United Farm Workers (UFW) where he was responsible for the overall management and direction of the UFW’s Development Department. Paul also assisted in the creation of the UFW Foundation, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, including helping to create and define its programmatic themes and focus. Furthermore, Paul represented the UFW on a number of local, statewide and national political campaigns, concluding with his work on the California Clean Energy Initiative, where he served as Statewide Outreach Coordinator. In 2004, Paul managed several campaign field offices in Arizona for Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign. Paul was also sent to Colorado to help manage campaign offices in seven counties within the San Luis Valley for the Colorado Democratic Coordinated Campaign. There, Paul and his team helped to garner a record voter turnout that resulted in electing U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, the first Latino Democratic Senator to serve the U.S. Senate in over two decades. Paul’s work also helped Democrats to seize control of the Colorado House for the first time in 25 years. Since then, Paul has continued to work on several successful Mayoral, Council, Assembly, Senate and legislative campaigns throughout California, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s successful Mayoral campaign.
Paul began his career with the nation’s premiere Latino civil rights organization, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Paul first served as the Assistant to the President and General Counsel, and later joined the legal team where he worked directly with the Vice President of Litigation, Thomas Saenz. At MALDEF, Paul worked with many local, statewide, and national advocacy groups and leaders to promote and protect the rights of Latinos and other underrepresented groups throughout the nation.
In the fall of 2005, Paul was appointed by Mayor Villaraigosa to the City of Los Angeles’ Quality and Productivity Commission, where he was elected Vice-President of the Commission. In 2007, Mayor Villaraigosa also appointed Paul to the Rent Adjustment Commission. Paul holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley where he graduated with honors and double minored in English and Chicano Studies.
3. NICOLO RUSCONI
Launch DTLA Founder
Nicolo Rusconi is the co-founder and President of downtown Los Angeles based real estate development and hospitality group BLVD745. Inspired by an innate passion to create and build, Nico has done just that in his career. With multiple successful ventures under his belt spanning a variety of industries, Nicolo has left behind a trail of creative brand concepts and unique takes on stagnant industry practices. With a lifelong passion for Real Estate, Nico along with his partner Jon Blanchard, have created one of the most progressive boutique real estate development firms in the country. The company has developed and participated in some of Los Angeles’ most renowned hospitality and real estate projects including the Ace Hotel at 9th and Broadway. BLVD is currently developing multiple internationally renowned hospitality projects in downtown Los Angeles and beyond.
4. MITCH CARRICART
Launch DTLA Founder
Mitch Carricart is the founder of Los Angeles Real Estate Investments, a brokerage and consulting group in downtown Los Angeles. Mitch grew up an Air Force brat, and has lived across the globe in places such as Turkey, Japan, and his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. Mitch went to college at the University of Idaho and graduated with a degree in Marketing and Finance. Mitch moved to Los Angeles shortly thereafter and never looked back. He is extremely passionate about Southern California and Los Angeles in particular due to everything the city has to offer, including the outdoor lifestyle, the professional sports, and a slew of other entertainment options. Mitch lives a very active lifestyle and loves to spend time with his friends and family.
Mitch obtained his California Real Estate License in 2004 while attending the University of Idaho. Mitch has been selling DTLA real estate for the last 9 years. His bread and butter has been selling condominiums as an in-house sales rep for developers. He has sold over 1,000 condos in such historical building conversion projects as the Rowan Lofts, Santee Village, Beacon Lofts, and the Barker Block Lofts. He has a broad range of experience in residential and commercial properties and currently consults on a multitude of industries, including condominiums, hotels, restaurants, bars, retail, historic buildings, and creative office space. As an expert in the booming Downtown Los Angeles real estate scene, he focuses on large and small commercial, retail acquisitions/sales/leasing, as well as Los Angeles residential sales/leasing. Mitch can assist an individual, firm, investor or developer to find any sort of property to purchase or lease. Mitch has lived, worked and played in DTLA since 2007 and has a deep knowledge, love and understanding of the downtown community and the ongoing revitalization.
5. Azzi Kashani
Launch DTLA Founder
With an MBA in International Hospitality Management & Marketing from Switzerland’s Glion Institute of Higher Education, Azzi is passionate about the international hospitality experience, especially when it comes to F&B. She spent the past decade of her career in hotel design and operations, most recently with Hyatt Hotel Corporation in Dubai, which gave her unparalleled insight into the value of great design across different cultures and geographies. An avid traveler and foodie, she is a self-professed “concierge” who always knows where to eat, stay, shop and play.
The LA native was part of the downtown renaissance at the O Hotel, and now after a 6-year hiatus, Azzi has returned to the City of Angels where she is Director of Business Development for Wilson Associates, a hospitality interior design firm office in downtown.
Azzi opened the O Hotel in 2007, and has since played an important role as an ambassador of Downtown LA (some even call her the “Mayor of Downtown”). Her involvement in LA’s downtown renaissance extends to the Downtown Hail a Taxi initiative, bringing back Broadway, and homelessness awareness. Her love of the Downtown LA community is stronger than ever, and as an expert in the booming downtown scene, Azzi focuses not only in hotel real estate development, but also in restaurant, commercial, and high-end residential properties.
When she’s not on the road, she’s hiking the LA Mountains and eating her way around the LA.