Echo Park landlords looking for a new generation of Sunset Boulevard tenants

for lease echo park signs

Storefront ReportECHO PARK — A stroll down Sunset Boulevard through the heart of Echo Park finds many storefronts shuttered behind metal roll down doors. Banners and signs reading “For Lease” and “Available” are draped over several buildings. What’s going on? It’s the most recent phase of Echo Park’s ongoing commercial gentrification, as discount stores, checking cashing outlets and pawn shops give way to tenants catering to a more affluent clientele.

Rents have been climbing and are approaching $4 a square-foot in some choice spots, say real estate brokers. Potential tenants, ranging from Orange County barbershops to local restaurateurs and apparel stores, have been checking out the new available spaces, some of which have been renovated to show off exposed brick walls and soaring bow-truss ceilings. The opening of Lassen’s, a pricey organic foods store, has not only attracted more upscale shoppers to Sunset Boulevard but has also attracted more potential tenants to the area, too.

“Lassen’s is not a cheap market,” said Michael Pakravan with Kennedy Wilson, the brokerage firm that is seeking a tenant for the former Jumbo Bargain discount store. “It says something about the area. It shows that people in the area have money and are willing to spend it for daily needs.”

But Pakravan has competitors chasing after some of the same tenants. Pakravan’s listing, for example, is located on the north side of Sunset between Echo Park Avenue and Laveta Terrace, where most of the buildings are available for lease.

“There’s no doubt [there has been] more turnover in recent years and a little more space available,” said broker Clint Lukens, who is seeking a tenant for the building next to Pakravan’s listing, the former Fashions for Eva apparel store. “As spaces turnover, I anticipate continued interest in being in our neighborhood.”

Broker Eric Friedland of CIRE Commercial Real Estate helped bring Lassen’s to Echo Park, where the market occupies the  former home of Save A Lot discount grocery. Now, Friedland is seeking tenants for the former medical center across the street at Echo Park and Sunset. Friedland said he’s also close to signing a deal with a “modern” barbershop from Orange County to fill the adjoining storefront, the former Crown Shoes store, that has been vacant since June.

“That whole area is changing,” Friedland said. “Lassen’s is pretty much become one of the main reasons to be at that intersection besides Walgreens.”

But finding tenants to fill these increasingly pricey Sunset Boulevard spaces can be a challenge. Also, many of the Sunset storefronts, especially on the north side of the street, have little or no off-street parking, a big draw back for many potential tenants. “Spaces can sit for a week,” Pakravan. “Sometimes they sit for a year or two.”

Still, with little in the way of new retail construction on Sunset Boulevard and more homes and apartments being built nearby, demand and Sunset rents are expected to keep rising, say the brokers.

“Rents have risen as there’s only so much space on Sunset Boulevard,” said Lukens.”We’re starting to see what feels like some steady state of rental rates for the moment, but overall continued growth as economy strengthens.”

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  1. A nice blend of old-timers and newcomers will only make this are better and more interesting. And, a bit more upscale, too.

    • You know what makes the area vastly less interesting though? The vacant storefronts that sit there for years because entitled owners aren’t getting the message that nobody’s willing to pay as much as they’ve decided they’re entitled to.

      • Well if these storefronts sit empty for years, than the building owners will be losing lots of money.

        • An owner would rather wait empty for a high rent than sign a ten year low rent lease. Seems obvious. They will fall like dominoes . Just watch.

          • Maybe… I guess if the property owners have deep enough pockets they can play the long game like that. Too bad local zoning makes it so difficult to construct more buildings and storefronts at this scale.

        • But it’s money that would be a tax write-off, wouldn’t it?

  2. Vacant storefronts are depressing, but most of these new landlords are not community based folks that volunteer and care about the neighborhood anyway. MONEY. That’s it. They want to make loads of money from the neighborhood, but rarely give back.

  3. LOL, joke’s on these ignorant big money White Dude developers. I’m a longtime Echo Park resident who these dolts would probably consider their “Target Market” (college educated, late 20s, stable career, first generation American) and I’ve never stepped foot inside Lassens. Don’t have any plans to, either. In fact, the only businesses I find myself frequenting these days in EP are the longtimers and the holdouts. Can’t say I’ve decided to spend my money on overpriced coffee at Bluebottle yet (inside looks boring and sterile) nor have I dined at The Lost Knight (overpriced and kitschy).

    tl;dr Developers and Investors think they know what my demographic wants, but they miss the mark. A lot.

    • If you would step into Lassens, you would discover how busy it is…all day long. Maybe YOU and YOUR demo aren’t going to Lassens or the Bluebottle but many are, certainly enough to make them thrive. I guess they don’t need your business…

    • Actually, a lot of the landlords are Korean. Not sure if that counts as “white dude developers”.
      Our Korean landlord and his relatives own 10 commercial buildings between them. And they bought in the 80’s.
      Clint Lukens, whose heavily quoted, IS in fact a “white dude”. But he’s more of a opportunistic realtor than a developer.

      • I was mostly referring to Lukens, whose name is on every single building I see up for lease these days. The Korean landlords are old guards from the 80s. You’ll see less and less of them as time passes. Same goes for my landlord, who is an elderly gentleman who made smart investments at least 40 years ago. Not many landlords like him around in the area, either.

    • Lassens Hot Food Bar is surprisingly a whole dollar less than Gelsons’. It is also 1000% fresher and tastier. They also sell alfalfa sprouts for a $1.29. Its actually not too badly priced for what you get. I have never been to blue bottle tho and wont any time soon, I feel the same way about their sterile interior and Apple Store aesthetic. And Lost Knight….yeah, thats a joke of a restaurant. Nice stage though.

  4. The myth of Lassen’s being the gentrifying “savior” of the area is ludicrous. I’ve lived in EP for over 20 years and Lassen’s (lest we forget their $30K donation to Yes on Prop 8) are nothing more than opportunists who took over a vacant space in a hot ‘hood. They have a steady stream of business due to the lack of competition in the vicinity. Once Whole Foods opens on Glendale, there will be tumbleweeds rolling down their aisles. If Vons was properly managed and stocked they’d kick ass like the one near the Vista Theatre.

    • the store with the best quality fresh deli will win. fast food is dying. people are busy and can’t always cook. Lassens Deli and soon whole foods food court will be busy while vons cold cuts, chicken wings and potato salad get staler and staler. they had years to figure it out and blew it.

      • Or maybe people are just lazy / uncreative? I willingly drive to the store to buy fresh ingredients to MAKE my own food instead of paying for pre-made deli crap from Lassens. Don’t forget, we have an AMAZING farmer’s market in Echo Park every Friday. You’ll spend less than at Lassen’s, and you’re supporting local businesses who actually care for the Echo Park community.

        Lassen’s? They’re not engaged in the neighborhood. They’re overpriced. They’re owned by bigots. The people who shop there are mostly the new Eurotash crowd that’s moved into Echo Park and Silver Lake (ie: those people who buy the ugly box houses by the 2 terminus)/

      • Bingo! Exactly right. That Lassens food bar is amazing tasting. AND a dollar cheaper than Gelsons crap one.

    • Yeah, really. I would be soooo happy if Von’s would clean up its act. Literally and figuratively.

  5. RIP Echo Park. LONG LIVE SODAPOPO!!!!

  6. “(lest we forget their $30K donation to Yes on Prop 8)”

    I am glad I am not the alone in avoiding this store.

    • I don’t shop there a lot, but as others have pointed out, they lost. Prop 8 fight is over. I’m sure you shop at places that hold many of the same or worse views. You just don’t know it.

      • SO true. If we knew everything we couldn’t shop anywhere. As it is I have trouble remembering where I shouldn’t shop, and why. It’s exhausting.

  7. Anyone know what the deal is with the two vacant storefronts next to Rodeo Grill (formerly Tortilleria Santa Fe and a video store)? Seems like those places have been empty for many years.

  8. I live in echo park for the last 40 years, all I can say, just wait after Presidential Elections and for this war conflicts to start, greed will go away again and owners start kissing middle class well you know.

  9. Turing Echo Park into the Westside , with expensive bullshit shops and snooty ass no eye contact people one storefront at a time !

  10. I miss my old Echo Park. The Pioneer Market, The Pioneer Chicken and all the mom and pop spots that knew my first name…

  11. Gentrification like this is starting in East LA. We are seeing the very beginnings of it here in City Terrace. The house flippers have descended on this neighborhood like a pack of wild dogs. Lucky for me I bought my house at the bottom of the market in 2010.

  12. As long as pot shops, happy ending massage parlors, and churches aren’t leasing the spaces I don’t see a downside to some new energy coming to the the neighborhood in the form of more upscale shops and restaurants.

  13. These realtors con landlords into evicting long standing local businesses with the promise of higher rents and orange county tenants. It’s disgusting that so many businesses on Sunset at Echo Park have been forced out in the last 4 months. All of the businesses and jobs are gone from our neighborhood and the street looks depressing. Meanwhile, the lost rent is a tax write-off to the landlords. I suggest that everyone start calling the phone numbers on these for rent signs and telling the realtors how you feel about what they are doing to our neighborhood! Instead of just complaining online, do something. Call your councilman, Mitch O’Farrell’s office and tell them how you feel #213-207-3015.

    • Will Mitch O’FaRRRell be more interested in how you and I feel about the O.C.ification of Echo Parque or getting another snootful of the thousands in campaign donations that Lukens squeezed out of his rolodex for O’Farrell s run-off election in 2013?

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