New Malibu Lumber mall targeted for November 2008 opening

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Several high-end stores will rent space at the site of the former Malibu Lumberyard, and, so far, two local businesses will rent space as well.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

Construction is moving along quickly at Malibu Lumber mall, with developer Richard Weintraub predicting the new mall, which was named after the former lumberyard site, opening for customers on Nov. 1. The 30,000-square-foot development, which is a joint venture with Weintraub and landscaper Richard Sperber, will include approximately 15 tenants, with four locally owned businesses paying greatly reduced rent.

In his agreement with the city to lease the property at the edge of Legacy Park off Cross Creek Road, Weintraub said he would sublease at least 3,000 square feet of the development to local businesses at a rent amount no higher than 80 percent of the average rate charged to other tenants. Weintraub said this week the local businesses will be charged much less than that, as low as $5 per square foot, while the average tenant will be paying $18-$20 per square foot.

“The locals just can’t afford the high rates,” Weintraub said this week.

A Malibu resident, Weintraub said last year, after signing the lease with the city, that he was concerned about the future of local businesses and wanted to help them.

Although they have not signed official leases, two of the local businesses coming to the development are Insurrection Hair Design, currently located at Point Dume Village, and Bernie Safire Hairstyle, currently located at Malibu Country Mart.

The owners of the former Tops Gallery in Malibu Country Mart, Robert and Dawn Walker, said when they closed last year they would be moving to the new mall. But they have since changed their minds after last month’s opening of Tops Secret, a lingerie boutique located on Pacific Coast Highway, near Rambla Pacifico.

Susan Sawyer, who owns the new business with the Walkers, said, “We have just chosen not to do that right now [opening a new Tops at the new mall].” (She added Tops Secret is including some oil paintings, sculptures and other products from the original Tops.)

The McLean Gallery, which closed last year at Malibu Country Mart, was also expected to move to the Malibu Lumber Yard. The gallery’s Web site has a message saying that is where the business is headed. But sources say that move likely will not happen. Owner Denise McLean could not be reached for comment. Weintraub did not say whether the gallery would be coming to the mall.

The non-local businesses that have signed leases with Malibu Lumber include the clothing shops Intermix, James Perse, Theory, J. Crew, Alice + Olivia and the high-end shoe store, Tory Burch.

Changes across the street

Meanwhile, across the street, changes will be coming soon to Cross Creek Plaza. Pouya Abdi of Retail Holdings Group, which purchased the complex, which houses Diesel, A Bookstore, Guido’s Restaurant and stores all the way to Super Care Drugstore, from Steve Soboroff last year, said the name will be changed to Malibu Village.

“The new name will go along with what we are planning to do with some minor updating of the property, including greening areas, creating a nice clean fa├žade with a little more white to make a village feel,” Abdi said.

Abdi said he is “dabbling with the idea” of making the changes sometime in the middle of the summer. He said it will “enhance the beautification of the property.”

“It will give it a clean new feel,” Abdi said

When asked if any businesses would be leaving the mall, Abdi said no. However, he did say some of the businesses were having a hard time paying the increased property tax bill following the mall purchase.

“I hope they can pull through,” Abdi said. “We’ve helped so far by paying the taxes, but soon they’ll have to pay their share.”