Really

Let’s not mince words, it’s over.

We are fabulous. GQ said so. We look good on the outside.

The impending and imminent exit of Hal’s, Casa Linda, the old Angela shoe repair and the glorious eccentric Bountiful, closes out the era of a street actually used by locals. A street where we once belonged. Abbot Kinney becomes even more fabulous every passing day — too fabulous surely for anyone here more than five years. We figure it won’t be much longer before people don’t even recall that it was once our street — a place for the regulars —  ordinary not-so-fabulous people who thought it was their street and fit into it like it was the proverbial old glove. It had a sense of place. That’s a very rare experience in L.A. and perhaps it exists nowhere else. Heck, today people think “The Grove” has a sense of place.

Hold your memories close, they are more important than ever as our town morphs into all that we disdain. You know, all those reasons you don’t live in Brentwood. It soon will be hard to remember how good and comfortable that old glove fit.

More Cracks

Our golden egg cracked a little more this month with the imminent loss of:

Pamela Barish
Mona Moore
L Frank
Koko
Axe
Neptina

Earlier Losses

Floral Arts
Glencrest Bar-B-Que
Surfing Cowboy
Euphoria
10 Women Gallery
Medley
Stroh’s
Altered Space
Double Vision
Lilly’s
Equator
Koola
Mini T’s
Stansbury Collection
Digs
Plantation
Venice Vintage Paradise
Jin Patisserie
Colcha
Just Tantau
AK 1114
Alderly Edge Furniture Design
ImagineVenice knows that pure economics is driving what seems like a never-ending turnover of our truly unique individually owned shops and their very distinct personalities. We know that their replacements are generic slick, glossy, corporate reflections of their much bigger selves—and oh so pristine they all are! But no matter what real life economics may be, we must live with the truth of the new.
Big pieces of ourselves left with the old.

The Golden Egg Has Cracked

When did it happen?

It started quietly, slowly. Just a fine crack. First signs? Was it when we happily waited in a long line to order a cup of coffee off a menu of rare coffee choices.  That’s when a cup of coffee became precious.

Take a look. We’re not us. We left funky, unique and fun. We are now shiny, slick, fabulous — and ordinary. The ship sailed.

Our edginess is gone.  It sold for $17.

Shops we have lost on Abbot Kinney. We miss them.

Floral Art
Just Tantau
Colcha
Jin Patisserie
Venice Vintage Paradise
Plantation
Digs
Stansbury Collection
Mini T’s
Koola
Glencrest Bar-B-Que
Surfing Cowboy
Euphoria
10 Women Gallery
Madley
Stroh’s
Altered Space
Double Vision
Lilly’s
Equator
Alderly Edge Furniture Design
Wabi-Sabi

 

UPDATE

The Abbot Kinney Shuttle

Councilman Bonin’s office is taking a look at possible re-activation of the Historical Society’s antique shuttle. Don Novack of Hal’s has worked hard on this to make this dream a reality. ImagineVenice asked for help from the council office to get parking permitted in the LAUSD Westminster School parking lot. A shuttle on Abbot Kinney would have incalculable positive impact on all businesses on the street. We are hopeful a shuttle does become a reality — if it does, it will be because of the influence and efforts of our

UPDATE

Historic Building “Renovation”
Now a Shadow of its Former Self

The new owner-developer of 1349-53 Abbot Kinney finished neutering one of the street’s most historic and interesting buildings. Shopping center storefront windows and doors replace the original fenestration which was formerly framed with vintage classic wood details. Its one-of-a kind leaded glass clerestory windows were ripped out. Since this developer did not employ an architect skilled in vintage property restoration he got what he knows. The building is now a bastardized version of its former self complete with mis-matched bricks. But don’t despair — this developer is meeting his goals — old tenants were pushed out and the new tenants will be paying upwards of $16/foot!

Alas, it is always about $$$. Rare is there a mix of principle and money. Fortunate for Venice and Abbot Kinney, we got lucky when we got that kind of buyer with investment firm Blatteis & Schnur who bought five properties on the street last year. They knew what they bought and knew it was essential to protect and preserve their new historic buildings purchase. They set about first restoring the former Equator space paying real attention to details and authenticity. The new Junk Food now calls this space home. The rest of the space is carefully being prepared for the new Blue Bottle coffee shop. Replacing their roll-up garage door with glass even looks good the way this developer did it. Another fine quality restoration by Blatteis & Schnur is nearing completion just across the street. It is almost ready for the imminent opening of Rag & Bone.

We would love to see the Venice Historical Society step up to the plate and help identify, preserve and protect Venice’s historic architectural buildings. We hope they noticed the loss of 1345-53 Abbot Kinney and are motivated to take on this challenge.

Life continues on the “coolest street in America.”

 

320 Sunset Avenue

Gjelina’s application received a stunning rebuke from the Zoning Administrator. The Zoning Administrator found so many insufficiencies with the “Change of Use” application, it was placed on a complete hold.

The loud and large outcry from Venice residents in opposition to Gjelina’s latest adventure was actually heard by the City. Criticisms of the project are now receiving real scrutiny. FINALLY! The community is clear in its opposition to another late night Fran Camaj restaurant and bar operation slapped right up against their residences. The intrusion of alcohol into a neighborhood without any other businesses serving alcohol — and serving alcohol until 2am — amplifies the total saturation of ABC licenses in Venice and people are fed up. Camaj’s well-earned reputation as a bad neighbor didn’t help his application. His intentions to only operate a “bakery” in the Sunset space raised neighborhood suspicions when his bakery permit morphed into a full-fledged restaurant and bar — the residents be damned! — is clearly the applicant’s attitude.

The Black BeastThe “Black Beast,” 1305 Abbot Kinney

And now we come to the “Black Beast” nearing completion at 1305 Abbot Kinney. This is Camaj’s latest adventure. Shortly the “noodle” restaurant will be ready for patrons and the pending liquor license application will go active. Another ABC approval for a bar operation in Venice is on the table. Another restaurant without sufficient parking is coming to the street. Once residents realize that this building will house Gjelina #3, the reputation of the devastation from the parking intrusion, and loud late night noise from Gjelina just a couple of blocks south, will scare the beejesus out of them. Get ready for the hurricane-in-waiting on this one… it’s been lurking out in the Pacific and is close to blowing ashore.

6″ Louboutin Heels

WARNING! Before reading Edition 12, take one Alka-Seltzer or have a very stiff drink!

Why did Abbot Kinney become LA’s most special and unique shopping and dining destination?

Answer: (pick one, it might be hard!)

A) It isn’t like the Santa Monica Promenade

B) It isn’t like the Beverly Center

C) It isn’t like Melrose

D) It absolutely, positively is not like The Grove

E) This land of the un-washed is just too funky for the Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive crowds

F) The street is a vibrant, mixed up mess of just about everything (mostly wonderful)

So what’s the big deal?

Answer: (pick one, it might be hard!)

A) Walking on Abbot Kinney is unlike walking anywhere else in LA

B) The street is a vibrant, mixed up mess of just about everything (mostly wonderful.)

C) No Gap (yet)

D) No Banana Republic (yet)

E) It still has its original historic buildings (this one just moved on to the endangered list.)

Hard to pick just one, right? Okay, go ahead and light a candle to the Blessed Mother that ALL OF THE ABOVE are true — sometimes we just can’t believe we are so lucky that we are still who we are, despite a few bruises along the way.

THREAT LEVEL — THREAT LEVEL — COLOR RED! COLOR RED!

New owner, Mr. Shabani, of the “Hal’s Block” has almost emptied out the building of tenants on Abbot Kinney and on California. Now this Beverly Hills developer can raise rents and bring Rodeo Drive to Abbot Kinney – he’s already begun destroying the historic brick and wood facade and all the aesthetics essential to this amazing block. Evidently all he knows is that GQ anointed this the ‘cool’ street and it is where the money is — and he’s here for the taking. Not only does he not have a scintilla of understanding of Venice culture or our essence, he actually has no clue why he actually paid $20 million for his rag-tag oh-so-old buildings. We invite you to take a look at what he has in store for us. (Play the game of figuring out what is missing from this promo piece.)

1349-1355 Abbot Kinney
529-533 California

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank proposed rendering
Newmark Grubb Knight Frank proposed rendering
Newmark Grubb Knight Frank proposed renderingDoes it have to be this way? Not according to Blatteis & Schnur who recently spent $17 million on the street with their buy of multiple historic brick facade buildings. They sure ‘get’ it and understand the real value of what they bought. Their upgrades leave untouched the historic brick facades and old custom woodwork. Unlike Shabani, they value the specialness and the essentialness of what gives the street and our community its unique irreplaceable essence. Remaining completely intact their buildings history and architecture, they are attracting quality tenants of like mind. Not much of a difficulty when you know what you bought and love what you own. Proving they got it right with the upgrading and recent opening of the unique Junk Food and the prepping for openings of Rag & Bone and Blue Bottle.

1103 Abbot Kinney

IMG_6547_smBlatteis & Schnur ‘gets’ us.

Envision this dear readers… 6″ Louboutin wearing Beverly Hills glitterati elite stumbling down our lousy sidewalks after circling madly for a half hour to find that elusive parking space on their way to Casa Linda for a bit of our local flavor and a taste of their magnificent tortilla soup (okay, they’re really on their way to hip Gjelina!) — ooops, sorry, guess that can’t happen… Shabani’s real estate leasing advertising piece has expunged Casa Linda — so much for leases! Is our beloved wonderful Hal’s still there?

Can we view Shabani as anyone other than Public Enemy #1? What else do you call a guy who buys into the heart of the street and spits in the face of Venice and its history? He disrespects us and is actually blind to our unique culture which defines what and who we are — he has no clue.

1349-1355 Abbot Kinney
529-533 California

IMG_6534_sm

A Venice Classic

We are not historic building preservationists nor do we claim any particular expertise in building preservation. We just know what is outright wrong for Abbot Kinney and this so-called ‘remodel’ is an absolute travesty.

This is the first time that one of Venice’s historic, classic commercial buildings has been assaulted. It feels like a funeral.

ImagineVenice

Transitions

Construction     Change of Use     For Lease

IMG_4376_sm1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd

 

IMG_4376_sm1639 Abbot Kinney Blvd

 

IMG_4376_sm1509 Abbot Kinney Blvd

 

IMG_4376_sm1413 Abbot Kinney Blvd

 

IMG_4376_sm1338 Abbot Kinney Blvd

 

IMG_4376_sm1132 Abbot Kinney Blvd
1136 Abbot Kinney Blvd

 

IMG_4376_sm1118 Abbot Kinney Blvd

 

IMG_4376_sm1421 Abbot Kinney Blvd

 

IMG_4376_sm1351 Abbot Kinney Blvd
1353 Abbot Kinney Blvd

 

IMG_4376_sm1319 Abbot Kinney Blvd

 

IMG_4376_sm1214 Abbot Kinney Blvd

 

ImagineVenice

‘Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…’

Notice the real change on Abbot Kinney? No, we don’t mean the newest trendy corporate-sponsored shop. No, we don’t mean how much the stupefying price was on the latest real estate deal. We mean the people! We mean the disengagement of the new ownership from the street. These are not touch-and-feel-owners. The new owners are LLC’s with investors whose focus is one thing — maximizing the cash return to their investors. And who can blame them? They paid big bucks to buy into this street. But at what cost? What is the cost to the actual community — to its residents?

Now that we are super cool and a destination spot in every guide book and investments are straight out of the Wild West old rules of engagement are gone.

The cost of these changes are not merely that things cost more to buy on the street with all our precious new shops paying huge rents. No, it is the cost of the decisions by these LLC’s which do not and never will make decisions which consider the soul of Venice. Why? Because in the world of LLC’s, there is no soul.

So, if you actually live here and are feeling your little fingers hanging precariously on to the mountains made of soul which used to surround our extraordinary community, you are very worried.

You can see the prices going up and the congestion increasing daily. Is anyone out there looking after the community? What ImagineVenice sees are corporate land and restaurant consultants pouring through the city rules to find obscure exceptions and freebies to max out their properties without a whit of concern for likely long-term damage to the community. On the table right now is the old World Gym building proposing to remodel and double its size without providing the additional parking new project rules would require. Why? Because LLC’s don’t live in Venice. They don’t drive the congested truck-packed streets or look for parking spaces. How will the new proposed hotel LLC feel without a dedicated loading dock — how will it feel when trucks back up on to Abbot Kinney making their 24/7 deliveries and their trash truck rolls over some child on his way to school on Broadway, 4th or Electric?

Remember neighbors, it is your neighborhood. Don’t start believing that LLC’s have souls.

It is up to us to look after our community. We are its soul.

You can buy a mattress on Abbot Kinney!

What can we expect now that the owner of more than 50 years has sold 1349 Abbot Kinney? Beverly Hills investor group led by Michael Shabani has purchased the building which houses our iconic Hal’s, Euphoria, Just Tantau, Minnie T’s and Casa Linda.

Has Abbot Kinney peaked? The rumor mill is working over time spinning the next episode of who is joining the street and who is being pushed out. Are we going the way of Santa Monica’s Main Street and Montana Avenue? Are we irrelevant–no longer the ‘coolest block in America?’ Is that what we have become with a mattress store opening on the Street and replacing our unique Altered Space?

The corporate invasion of the Street has been massive. Long-term landlords are choosing chain store tenants even when quality individual shops are looking to establish roots on our street. Long-term tenants who made the Street what it has become have been pushed out because of rent increases that only the corporate world can afford. These new owners are looking for “the address.”

Abbot Kinney Blvd. is “the address” or should we say was “the address?”

Before long these big-rent corporate shops will be screaming for a huge parking structure like they have at the Grove and in Beverly Hills. What other mall fixtures will they be demanding? Valet attendants in front of every store?

We throw out the words ‘one-of-a-kind’ this and that but we actually were that ‘one-of-a-kind’ and we felt it and we lived it – readers, get ready to kiss it goodbye. We are becoming one of them.