Richard Weintraub said he was partnering with Richard Sperber, head of the major landscaping business ValleyCrest Companies, to create an area with “an incredible garden design center surrounded by amazing restaurants and retail woven throughout the center,” if he is chosen as the tenant for the lumber property.
By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor
The city of Malibu could be close to getting a tenant for the 2.7-acre portion of the Chili Cook-Off site formerly occupied by Malibu Lumber. City Attorney Christi Hogin said in an interview on Tuesday that the law firm the city hired to find a tenant was in discussions with a party to formalize an agreement so that negotiations could begin between the city and that party. She declined to name the potential tenant.
In June, the city announced that there were nine bids submitted by companies and individuals interested in renting the property. Since then, a subcommittee consisting of council members Sharon Barovsky and Pamela Conley Ulich has met with the potential clients. Barovsky said on Monday that the party the city could be selecting had shown concepts for what it planned to do on the property, and it was satisfactory.
“We want a project that will complement Legacy Park [future name of the Chili Cook-Off site], that will be able to tie into the environmental components of the park, that will be residential-serving and that satisfied the local Realtors,” Barovsky said.
In last week’s issue of the Malibu Surfside News, writer Bill Koeneker said the two candidates in the running to rent the property were Weintraub Financial and Watt Realty Advisors, attributing the information to “sources familiar with the selection process.”
Watt Realty did not return phone calls for comment. Malibu resident Richard Weintraub, who heads Weintraub Financial, said he could not comment on whether he was the chosen potential tenant for the property. But he said he was “incredibly excited about a local project” he would be doing on the property if he were chosen.
Weintraub said he was partnering with Richard Sperber, head of the major landscaping business ValleyCrest Companies, to create an area with “an incredible garden design center surrounded by amazing restaurants and retail woven throughout the center.”
Hogin said an agreement between the city and the potential tenant to begin negotiations could be ready for a City Council vote at its next meeting on Sept. 11. If that agreement were approved, the company or individual would then go into exclusive negotiations with the city, and not have to compete with any other potential buyers. Although, the city had originally asked for an $850,000 per year lease for the property, Hogin said due to the competitive bidding process, the potential tenant has offered to pay more than that.
Barovsky stressed on Monday that if negotiations do not work out with the specific party in which the city is interested, then the other companies and individuals could once again be potential tenants.
The old Malibu Lumber space includes a 17,000-square-foot main building, 5,000-square-foot mezzanine and 5,000 square feet of accessory buildings. According to the city’s purchase agreement with the Malibu Bay Co. for the Chili Cook-Off site, any of the structures on the site can be torn down, but they can only be replaced with buildings of the same size.
Malibu needs to rent out the vacant space to generate income to pay off the certificates of participation it sold to raise funds for the Chili Cook-Off site purchase.
Late last year, Malibu Bay extended the date for the city to close escrow on the site from Dec. 31 to late March because it said it wanted to continue negotiating with an unnamed party (rumored to be retailers Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie, which is owned by Urban Outfitters) about renting the vacant former Malibu Lumber space. It was never revealed why Malibu Bay was concerned who would be the lessee, since it was selling the Chili Cook-Off site. But no deal was ever reached and the city was left to find a tenant.