EAGLE ROCK — Except for a small green metal street sign with an arrow, there’s little indication that Occidental College is only a short walk away from York Boulevard. But that’s about the change after the liberal arts college purchased a York Boulevard commercial building to raise the college’s profile in the neighborhood and also attract more shops and cafes further west along the street.
The college paid $1.59 million for the 5,400-square-foot building at the northwest corner of York and Armadale Avenue, according to Occidental spokesman James Tranquada. Right now the most prominent tenant of the 1920s building is the Ocxy Store, a liquor store patronized by Oxy students and residents. But the college plans to renovate the building and fill the storefronts with new shops and cafes and leave four spaces for college purposes.
We’re hoping to achieve a couple of goals: to help lure the emerging York retail scene further west, closer to the College, and make Occidental more visible on a gateway location on York. Currently, it’s easy to drive by on York and not know Oxy’s just a block away. We’re hoping when we renovate the building to make it more obvious that Oxy’s nearby.
Occidental has turned to faculty and staff for proposals for the units reserved for college purposes. Officials have yet to determine when the building will be ready for the new tenants.
A story in the college newspaper, the Oxy Weekly, said some students suspected the purchase of the building was a way to reduce the number of alcohol outlets near the college. Occidental officials refuted that notion, saying that there are several places near Occidental that serve and sell alcohol.
But it does appear that the corner Ocxy Store won’t be selling liquor for long. “The corner space likely will remain some kind of locally owned retail/café, and it’s possible that two other adjacent spaces might be used for some kind of commercial or retail use,” Tranquada said.