The new owners of the former Lipson Building at 126-148 N. Larchmont Blvd., which currently houses Landis Gifts & Stationery, Landis Labyrinth Toys, Chevalier’s Books, Lipson Plumbing, and several other long-standing businesses, are proposing to transform the building into the “Larchmont Mercantile.”
“We want to get the building back to its original glory,” Liza Killian, Director of Marketing at Christina Development told the Buzz. “We are ripping off the canopies, sprucing it up and doing repairs and maintenance of the building facade that needs a little love.”
Malibu-based Christina Development purchased the building 18 months ago from the estate of Charlotte Lipson, the daughter of Larchmont’s founder Julius LaBonte, for $23.5 million. Since the acquisition, there has much speculation about the fate of the current tenants and plans for the building’s future.
According to Killian, a third-generation resident of Hancock Park, whose stepfather, Larry Taylor, is President of Christina, the plan is to repair, maintain and improve the 14 storefronts as spaces become vacant. Currently there is one empty space at 146 N. Larchmont, which was vacated earlier this year when owner Astgik Ousepian closed her eclectic clothing boutique Bonne Chance after more than twenty years in business. There is also a specific Larchmont Preservation Ordinance, enacted in 2009, which places some height and frontage restrictions on the property (as well as others in the Larchmont business district).
“Our family plans to be long-term owners of the property,” said Killian. “We plan to continue to improve the building with a very light touch. There’s nothing crazy going on, we are not adding anything, not changing any walls, and the ceiling heights will stay as they are today. We are thrilled to be doing something wonderful with this building.”
We contacted Killian after we saw a brochure marketing the property to prospective retail tenants, to find out if the current tenants are planning to stay in the building.
Killian said all the tenants are welcome to stay, but she noted that there are a number of vacant spaces on the street, which could provide other options. She couldn’t provide any information on rental rates. We understand all the remaining leases at 126-148 are scheduled to expire in December, but Killian told us she was not aware of that, nor could she provide any details on which tenants may have already negotiated leases to stay.
Killian could not provide a time frame for when the work would be begin, except to say they would be working on spaces as they became vacant. She confirmed that Christina has been working on plans to restore the building for some time, but given the current pandemic environment that has shuttered almost all retail stores, Killian said they waiting to see what happens.
“We are measuring everything out and taking everything into to consideration, given all the things that are going on…but it is our high hope that we are able to do this,” said Killian.