Thursday, October 20, 2016

All I want for Christmas is a $4.75 million Highland Park landmark

The Masonic Lodge of Highland Park | Google Maps

The Masonic Lodge of Highland Park | Google Maps

Eastside PropertyHIGHLAND PARK — Here’s a last-minute gift idea: The former Highland Park Masonic Temple, a 1920s Italian Renaissance Revival-style hall and commercial building at the corner of Figueroa and Avenue 56 – came up for sale this month at an asking price of $4.75 million, according to LoopNet.com.

The approximately 19,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1923 for Masonic Lodge 382 but now is home to Good Girl Dinette, the field office for Councilman Gil Cedillo and other commercial spaces on the ground floor. The upper floors halls are rented out for banquets, parties and other private events. The three-story building is a city historic cultural monument and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The building, with a brick facade featuring arches and balconies, sits in a “rapidly gentrifying” section of Highland Park, according to the listing. With new stores and restaurants popping up along Figueroa, it will be interesting to see what kind of response this landmark receives.

Interior details of the Masonic Lodge | Martha Benedic

Interior details of the Masonic Lodge | Martha Benedict


Interior details of the Masonic Lodge | Martha Benedict


Second Floor Ladies Parlor | Martha Benedict

The main entrance to the former lodge | Martha Benedict

The main entrance to the former lodge | Martha Benedict

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  1. I saw Ralph Nader there in 2001 when he was campaigning for President.

  2. I hope the future buyer turns it into a full-service bicycle emporium.

  3. Oh interesting…….I wonder if this could the the building Maison Martin Margiela takes over since it doesn’t look like the Frank’s Camera building worked out for them.

  4. Maison Martin Margiela? Are you serious?

  5. It would be nice to see the windows on Gilbert Cedillo’s office restored to a style more suitably matched to the original construction. Another poster on here said they are supposedly temporary if I recall.

  6. If this sells, we can say goodbye to the bakery, the Good Girl, and the vintage shop. These types of businesses don’t fit into the vision of ‘upside’ that a $4.75 million price tag would demand. I hope that they all have decent leases, otherwise they’ll all have to raise their prices in an attempt to survive, or simply be forced to leave outright.

    I would argue that this is not an example of positive forces of change in the area, but rather detrimental change of the sort we’ve been seeing more of… the kind of change that is bad for mom and pop businesses and increases costs for everyone, all so the new building owners can turn a profit on the millions that they’ve just thrown down, and the former owner cashes out.

    Not all investment in an area is GOOD for the area; just because someone is investing money for their own benefit doesn’t mean that their investment will benefit the community. I live around the corner and like this building the way that it is… this is scary stuff.

    • This purchase will generate millions of dollars of property tax over the coming decades to finance schools, public safety, transportation etc.

      The building improvements will provide well-paid construction jobs and beautify the street.

      The sales tax collected by the new tenants will be 5-10x the amount currently being collected.

      The fact that you personally dislike it does not make it bad for the community.

      • The fact that I personally dislike it isn’t why it’s bad for the community. What makes it bad is a pattern of activity that perpetuates income inequality issues, while masquerading as a ‘benefit’ to the community. Developers in these situations always fall back on their mythic argument about job creation and property tax revenue, but the reality is that any marginal increase in either is greatly offset by a dramatic increase in the cost of living for everyone in the neighborhood… all at a time when wages are NOT increasing, and every dollar buys less and less. Significantly, mom and pop local business are endangered by this approach, because they cannot afford the dramatically increased overhead that comes with maxed out rents, which are formulated based on a new calculation of ‘upside potential’ that commodifies the buzz surrounding Highland Park.

        What we end up with is building owners charging more for rent, local businesses charging much more and/or being pushed out, and new businesses operating under a new model of selling ‘Premium’ items or services, all at greater expense. The new businesses require a different (deep pocketed and generally non-local) funding model, and with that comes a different sensibility that is less community based, because those behind the operation are not community stakeholders. With that comes an eventual (and often immediate) erosion of community itself, because local businesses are the backbone of a community.

        Specifically as to the property tax argument, this is a landmark historical property that may already be under a Mills Act contract, or qualifies for one, meaning that the new owners will not necessarily pay more in property taxes. The whole “Raise your hand if you like jobs” argument in favor of property investment and development projects is an incredibly short sighted, I would say insulting, over-simplification of the issue.

        This is all a manifestation of a larger cultural problem, which is that just because someone CAN do something, and be financially rewarded for it, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily good for a community or a culture. Who doesn’t support property improvements and jobs? Of course we all want that and need both badly. The point is, not at the much greater expense of a huge permanent cost of living increase and a more corporate style ownership model for the area, because those are VERY BAD THINGS that will make life here ultimately worse, not better.

        • just FYI the two comments above are not from the “Jonathan” you know and love.

        • Owner of the building wants to sell. The only way they will get $4.5m is if the income (existing or potential) can justify the price.

          All your comments are baseless speculation. As for the “communal good”?- step up and buy it or STFU

      • How long has the Delicias Bakery been there?

        I don’t care how much property tax would be generated by the sale of this building, It would be a gentrification CRIME if the bakery were pushed out of our neighborhood. That place is part of the soul of Figueroa.

        Forcing Delicias out for greedy grimes to make more rent, is BAD for the community. period.

        • Even if it becomes a Rose Bakery? Trust me, having been to both the NYC and London Dover Street Market locations and of course the Paris original many many times I promise you nobody will miss Delicias Bakery once Rose Bakery comes to LA as part of the Margiella US flagship. My fingers are VERY MUCH crossed that they do end up making the decision to locate in Highland Park. Unfortunately I don’t have any updated news on whether their intentions have changed with Galliano taking over the creative director helm at Margiella a few months ago……

          • Yes, a Rose Bakery is needed.

        • The real story here is that the owner of the bakery owns the building (I have been told).

  7. An example of how things quickly spiral down to the pit of corporate business hell lies not too far from us in Glendale. The beautiful old firehouse by Brand Ave was taken down to make room for The Amerishittiana, and the one cultural thing that Glendale could be proud of, The Noise Within Theater, moved to Pasadena a couple of years ago. The future of the gorgouse masonic building they occupied remains unknown, but is surely will be “elevated” to match the fakeness of its neighbor across the street. There is no character or beauty left in downtown Glendale and I don’t know who can afford the rent or retail prices in that hellhole. I hope to GOD this will not be the fate of this gorgeous property in HP.

    • I think almost everyone is in agreement that we don’t want Highland Park to turn into another Old Town Pasadena/Americana/The Grove, etc. The questions is how much power we have in stopping that from happening.

      • Really? More like ‘almost everyone’ you know.

        If the neighborhood gentrifies to the point that Pottery Barn moves in, it implies that property values have gone up so much that any home owner could afford to sell, relocate to a lower-key area they like, and bank the rest.

        I’ll take that deal!

    • But in 50 years, the Americana will be a ‘vintage’ property, with people taking their grandchildren there and reminiscing about hanging out on the lawn to watch the fountain. After all, Paris underwent a massive renovation that knocked down the old and put up new, uniform buildings…in the 1860s, which now gives it its distinct character.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haussmann%27s_renovation_of_Paris (see – the Haussmann Building).
      Frankly, most of Glendale is pretty bland – anything built from the 60s-90s is generally bad. The Americana was a step in the right direction compared to its more recent predecessors. And yeah, it is fake. But over time, fake becomes real (like with Olvera street)

  8. I’m going to set the countdown clock for the opening of a Pottery Barn on Figueroa. Wasn’t that the first big chain store to land on Colorado in Old Town Pasadena?

  9. The lot size is great and the location is nice, but it’s a dated building and I wonder what kind of development restrictions it comes with, given its historical nature.

    To me, it seems like a tear-down, and then rebuild as mixed use. Retail on the bottom and a couple of stories of loft condos. Think that’s the way to go with this.

    • You are out of your mind or you only typed what you typed to elicit a response. Congrats! I responded.

    • Um, did Curbed send you over here? This historic building has enormous potential as it is.

      • No, I was being serious and just kind of thinking out loud. At a price of $4.75M, you’re not going to make any money renting out the upstairs for special events, so the upstairs becomes wasted space, which has to be totally reconfigured.

        And as long as you’re going to redo the 2nd floor, might as well tear the whole thing down and start from scratch. Underground parking, retail on the ground level and then either one level of lofts, or two levels of standard condos, with rooftop decks.

        That’s how you make money on the property. At $4.75M, if you have to keep the structure as-is, it’s a loser.

        Don’t know why that’s such an odd opinion to have?

        • Your comment horrifies me. Literally. That building is beautiful and a historical landmark. It’s a key part of the history and aesthetic of fig. That property will be worth double the selling price in 10 years. Your “business sense” just reflects your lack of imagination and humanity.

        • I think the economics of making a $4.75 million purchase price pay for itself with even more money packed into this project just doesn’t pencil out. Underground parking? Razing the building? No. There is no way that makes financial sense here. Maybe in a context free wonderland, and even then I question the financial logic.

          If the buyer came into this with a large chunk of savings and only had to borrow 1/2 the money, rents on the ground floor and rents upstairs might have to go up a little. With a 30 year mortgage and interest rates as low as they are, $4,750,000 plus property taxes, etc. can be completely covered by ~$25,000 in rents each month.

          The bakery is likely the linchpin unless other tenants have leases that will expire soon and allow them to have their rent kicked up a bunch or be replaced. That space is LARGE and since they own the building it hasn’t been paying market rate rent to stay open.

          The upstairs would have to become some sort of boutique rental or office space or co-working space (whatever) and could likely bring in more money that way than as a hall.

          Is this price right? I think it is a little high but you can probably justify it with rents. Knocking it down in this legal and cultural context is a harebrained idea.

          • “but you can probably justify it with rents.” – its not the “rents” that justify a purchase price, its the “net operating income” and the “cap rate”

        • Gentrified said : “And as long as you’re going to redo the 2nd floor, might as well tear the whole thing down and start from scratch.” — wow is that insane

    • “To me” = nobody gives a shit

  10. The owner already had his hand slapped and was fined for changes to the building which went against its established historic status. That’s probably why he’s trying to sell it…
    The building was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1984 (HCM #282),[5] and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

    More on the subject of gentrification of Highland Park:


    and you’ll find links to Eastsider articles mentioned in both pieces…
    The woman in the first link has to be one of the more detestable people I’ve read about who think they’re doing nothing wrong…lie to get info on the building’s owner…she could give lessons to the devil on how to lure people to do the wrong thing.

  11. That building is beautiful and full of historic, architectural charm. It would be awful if this turned into one of those cookie cutter transit-oriented mixed user developments.

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