Peeling away the present reveals the past of the Boyle Heights Sears store

Photo by Jesse Saucedo

Photo by Jesse Saucedo

BOYLE HEIGHTS —  Passersby have begun to notice the first visible signs of a massive overhaul planned for the landmark Sears building at Olympic Boulevard and Soto Street. Workers have torn down a facade that was added in recent decades on the Olympic side of the building, revealing some of the older – albeit dusty- Art Deco details of the 1920s building.

Los Angeles developer Izek Shomof plans to convert a portion of the massive building into more than 1,000 residential units and 250,000-square-feet of office space. The store will continue to operate on the ground floor, and Shomof’s group has pledged to preserve the building’s historic features and not endanger its city and national historic landmark status.

“The development team is restoring the historic facade as part of their project,” said Ken Bernstein, Manager of the city’s Office of Historic Resources.  The developer’s plans are being reviewed by a preservation architect with the city. In addition, the developer is with working with  a preservation consultant on the plans and the ongoing monitoring of the work, he said.

While the project will restore the building’s historic features, it has also touched off concerns about the gentrification of Boyle Heights as well as bringing additional traffic in the area.

The the mail-order warehouse and store was completed at the end of 1927 after crews worked around the clock to finish the project in only six months, according to Wikipedia.

Before: The Olympic Boulevard entrance, pictured in 2015, before demo work began.

Boyle Heights Sears renovation in progress 5-17-2016 10-09-07 AM

After: The old facade revealed

Boyle Heights Sears renovation in progress 5-20-2016 1-00-31 PM

Boyle Heights Sears renovation in progress 5-20-2016 12-59-04 PM

Boyle Heights Sears renovation in progress 5-20-2016 1-00-060

Boyle Heights Sears renovation in progress 5-20-2016 12-57-59 PM

Boyle Heights Sears renovation in progress 5-20-2016 12-58-036


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  1. fiiiiinally, get that thing done already!

  2. That’s gorgeous! I can feel the building breathing a sigh of relief!

  3. awesome, I look forward to seeing this building restored, once again injecting life into the neighborhood.

    • Really? So, there’s no “life” currently in that neighborhood? That’s a little condescending, don’t you think?

      • There are just low life’s in the neighborhood.

        • Poor Bruce li. I hope you find happiness in your lifetime. Until then, remember the wise words of Willie Nelson, “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” Peace to you.

          • Pointing out the obvious isn’t a negative thought.

          • You’re not pointing out the obvious. You’re stating your opinion, which is wrong. There’s a ton of hard working families already in the neighborhood, most are good people.

            We’re not rapists and murderers like your pal Dumpf says.

          • Try reading some Watts or Campbell. Life is much more gratifying and fun when your “obvious” isn’t so bleak. There are all kinds of realities. If you see ugliness, check yourself. If something is broken, work to fix it; otherwise, your criticism is unproductive. Or, maybe some Emerson…”Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

          • Gina DV – Willie Nelson also said, “Sometimes there is a 36-piece orchestra going off in my stomach.” Just sayin’.


        • I state that there are a lot of low life’s in the neighborhood.(gang bangers,dope dealers,taggers,thieves,etc) and Angeleno thinks I’m talking about “Mexicans”.

          • Well I guess you are talking about Mexicans because they are the majority in this neighborhood for sure. But that doesn’t make you racist. just observant.

  4. The revealed facade is gorgeous! I think I remember going shopping at that Sears with my Mother, as a child.

    Thanks for the story, hope you’ll follow up with more.

  5. Sadly an empty canvas for the taggers

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