The cages and carpeted cat trees have been hauled away, and the faded images of a rabbit, fish and rooster on the facade have disappeared under a coat of beige paint. Nine months after Highland Park pet shop owner Hervey Chapman died, his York Boulevard building has been cleaned out and was recently put up for sale at $565,000. It did not take long for offers to start coming in as investors and entrepreneurs try to stake a claim to the changing street, where new restaurants, shops and art spaces reflect the ongoing gentrification of Highland Park. “We have gotten very heavy interest in the property,” said property agent Marie Taylor at NAI Capital.
In fact, only three weeks after the building went on the market, a few offers have already been submitted for the approximately 3,000-square-foot building, which is located next to the popular York gastropub. Taylor said she expects a sale to be completed within 45 days. What will become of the old pet shop?
Taylor said some of the proposals she has heard mentioned by some of the prospective buyers range from art galleries to restaurants to new shops. “Most of the interest is coming from people who know the area well,” Taylor said.
Other Highland Park business people are paying close attention to the sale and what it could mean for York Boulevard. There is already talk of new Asian noodle and ice cream shops opening up on the narrow street and other recent building sales could mean more changes and new shops.
Matt Schodorf, who in 2007 opened Cafe de Leche on York Boulevard and Avenue 50, said any buyer of the former pet shop would have to invest heavily in the property, which sits a few storefronts away from his coffee house. But Schodorf said he thinks it could be a worthwhile the investment. “I personally have been trying to encourage peopel to go in,” he said. His preference? A clothing shop.
Bike shop owner Josef Bray-Ali said he would be interested in moving his Flying Pigeon store from its cramped quarters on Figueroa Street to the former York Boulevard pet shop. But he’s not sure if he can pull a deal off in time.
“My dream would be to move my family into the back of the building and use the rest as a huge city and cargo cycling showroom, repair shop, and storage space all in one,” said Bray-Ali. “I have been trying to find a way to scrape together enough money to buy the place, but I don’t think I will be able to get enough together before someone else does.”
A sale of the building, however, does not necessarily mean it will become a magnet for vintage clothing shoppers or vegan restaurant patrons. Another York Boulevard building that was sold and restored briefly served as a discount store and now houses a garment factory, said Schodorf.