Lipson Building sale threatens longterm tenants

| November 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

LIPSON BUILDING has long been home to small, locally owned businesses.

Larchmont Village’s historic Lipson Building was sold on Oct. 10 to a Malibu-based real estate investment company for $23.5 million. At that price, Christina Development paid roughly $1,372 per square foot for the one- and two-story, 17,000-square-foot property located at 124-148 N. Larchmont Blvd. The building houses 14 tenant spaces, including upstairs offices.

The sale is from the estate of the late Charlotte Lipson, who died last year one day after her 100th birthday. The property was passed to Lipson from her father, Julius La Bonte, one of the original developers of Larchmont Village. It is said that La Bonte at one time owned 70 percent of the buildings on Larchmont Boulevard, but he later sold many of the properties after the Great Depression. This recent sale represents the last remaining Larchmont property still owned by the family.

The 1920s building is home to several beloved stores including the city’s oldest independent bookstore Chevalier’s Books, Landis Stationery and Lipson Plumbing, among others.

To find out what these longtime Larchmont businesses think of the ownership change, this reporter hit the Boulevard to investigate.

While there were no tenants who would agree to speak on the record, for obvious reasons, they all shared with me a concern for what the future might bring.

“It’s not going to be like it used to be,” predicted one business owner. “The writing is on the wall,” said another owner. They all said that they hope to stay on the Boulevard for as long as possible.

Tenants of the Lipson building received a letter dated Oct. 11 that informed them of the ownership change and where to mail rental payments.

“The new owner of the building is Larchmont Village Plaza, LLC,” read the letter, which notes that Christina Development will now manage the property. “We look forward to becoming a part of the Larchmont Village community,” concluded the letter.

Without any further information, the tenants are left wondering what will become of them. Will they have a chance to renew their leases? Will the building be razed? Perhaps the only person to know is Christina Development CEO Lawrence Taylor, who declined repeated requests for comment.

On Christina’s website, the company boasts that it has “sponsored direct real estate investments” for the past 40 years in the Westside. Of the 22 projects listed under the company’s portfolio, which includes dates for the acquisition and disposition for each project, my math indicates that the company holds each project, on average, for four and a half years.

This short-term investment approach has some local residents speculating that the new owners will be primarily focused on raising the building’s rent base only to turn around and resell the property to a long-term owner. Perhaps only time will tell, but, for now, you can show your support for our independent, locally owned businesses at Small Business Saturday, Nov. 24.

By Billy Taylor


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Category: News

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