Historic Echo Park “mini-mall” now for sale


ECHO PARK —  Many of Echo Park’s older homes and commercial buildings reflect a time before the automobile came to dominate Los Angeles.  Most shops and commercial buildings, for example, provided no parking at all for customers. If they did, the parking was in the back. But in 1927, the construction of a new market at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Quintero Street reflected the growing impact of the auto, with off-street parking provided conveniently in the front of the building, not the back.  The former Mission Market is now the Casablanca Furniture store but those diagonal parking spaces remain out front.  Now,  this piece of L.A. roadside architecture is for sale for $7.9 million, according to LoopNet.

The business is not included in the sale. Only the approximately 13,000-square-foot lot and the building are for sale.

Historian Jonathan Gillett tipped us off that this 1927 building once housed the Mission Market, which had also been referred to as the Mission Motor-In Market or Mission Drive-in Market.

“These types of markets were the first to privilege the automobile over pedestrians by having parking lots, and were the direct precursors to the uber-Angeleno strip mall phenomenon,” Gillett said in an email.

The Mission Market building has been cited in a book about L..A. commercial architecture, which noted that most 1920s drive-in markets have been “destroyed or altered beyond recognition, save the Mission Market whose fabric remains remarkably intact.”

An L.A. Times story on the proliferation of corner shopping centers or mini-malls  says the Mission Market and similar drive-in markets of the 1920s reflected L.A.’s early embrace of the automobile, with fanciful designs and, of course, convenient parking. ” The automobile comes first, the pedestrian second.”  The building, as the L.A. Times story noted that the Mission Market is  “barely recognizable as its former self” but but remains standing.

How longer it will remain standing remains a question mark as the property is being marketed as a potential development site.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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  1. I do appreciate a building with history, but this is one I’d rather forget. This represents the time when Los Angeles literally turned it’s back to pedestrians in favor of the automobile…

    Next time you’re out for a walk (or drive) take a look at the buildings your enjoy and those you don’t, there’s certainly a correlation between who / what those buildings were designed for and how they are enjoyed.

    Just one block up (1461 Sunset) a nice building, no parking designed for people. OR this building, a dreary sight, designed for cars.

    Hopefully, it won’t be long before this parcel sells and is redeveloped into something with a real street presence.

    • This is such a killer property and an important part of OUR neighborhoods rapidly disappearing history. What an amazing chance to do something that honors the past while looking forward.

    • I would argue that this building is eligible as a city landmark.

      It’s easy to dismiss this building in its current incarnation, but if the window openings were restored, the front parking area turned into a grand outdoor patio and the roof turned into either parking or a roof deck, you’d think otherwise.

      A similar (arguably slightly less charming) historic market was recontextualized in South Pasadena: http://www.mikeandannes.com/#!untitled/zoom/cqm1/image1u1c

      • I think it won’t sell till the owner demolishes the building.

        Too much risk that it’ll be landmarked. No buyer wants to be left holding the bag.

      • Such a scenario would be much preferred no doubt, but the obvious difference (and reason this wouldn’t come to fruition at Casablancas) is that Mission St in Pasadena is a far FAR cry from Sunset Blvd in Echo Park.

        Furthermore, the price of property so close to downtown and on a vital corridor like Sunset, wouldn’t appeal to charitable investors who are looking for minimal returns. Being sold without the business, this is a certain tear-down.

    • Wait A Minute...

      “Historic” doesn’t quite mean what is used to…

  2. Thanks for the interesting information about the historic Mission Motor-In Market. I checked out the link which takes one to a book titled, “The Drive-In, the Supermarket, and the Transformation of Commercial Space in Los Angeles, 1914-1941” April 30, 1999.

    Having been born and raised in Los Angeles over seventy years ago I enjoy reading and viewing photos that remind me of times when we drove much less, but had fun going visiting via streetcars and buses, and even walking! This particular building isn’t representative of those times but I would still like to see a picture of it in it’s earlier days.

  3. There used to be apartments on a second level, accessible from Quintero Street. They were damaged in the ’94 earthquake and torn down.

    Yangna Local, I agree that it would be lovely if it was restored like Mike and Annes in SoPas.

  4. Sergio Lamborghini

    GOOD RIDDANCE!! What a JOKE that we now think fuqqing strip malls are land marks?! Idiots.

  5. A terribly ugly strip-mall, no matter the historical provenance. Tear it down and build to the street. Put parking behind or below.

  6. > Historic Echo Park “mini-mall” now for sale

    “Historic” Echo Park mini-mall now for sale

    There. Fixed the headline for you.

  7. Gosh I wish it would become a Trader Joe’s….

    • Well, the parking lot is perfectly undersized for a Trader Joe’s, one of the company’s new store location criteria.

  8. I’ve always adored this building. I hope someone buys it and honors the past while integrating the present. The Mike and Anne’s example is perfect. The Mike and Anne’s building was a corner auto repair place. I remember it well. They did a stunning job with that property and I am sure the right buyer could do the same to transform the Casablanca property ON SUNSET too!!!!

  9. I think this building and its future poses some interesting questions: Do we try to preserve a building that reflects a period of history instrumental to the formation of our city, or do we tear it down because the history it represents (a more car-centric lifestyle) is something many in the city are looking to distance themselves from? What motivates/underpins our desire for preservation in the first place?

  10. Any news on what will happen to the furniture business currently occupying the space? It’s family owned and has been a part of the Echo Park/Silver Lake community for decades? My parents bought my sister and I our “grown up” beds there in the early 90’s and I actually just purchased a recliner there for my dad. The son running the store now delivered the beds to our home when he was a teenager, nice family. It would be a shame if they went out of business…sadly that’s the new norm these days in this area.

    • Their gonna get $8 million for this property that was worth probably less then a million 5 years ago.. I’m sure they’ll be nostalgic for all the history, but they’ll certainly have a comfortable retirement.

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