Chamber expected to lease former Coldwell building from city

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The Malibu Chamber of Commerce may soon be moving to the city-owned property at the corner of Webb Way and Pacific Coast Highway. A portion of the space has been vacant for several years since Coldwell Banker left.

By Knowles Adkisson / The Malibu Times

The Malibu Chamber of Commerce is in negotiations with city officials to join Super Care Drugs in leasing part of the city-owned building at the corner of Webb Way and Pacific Coast Highway. Chamber CEO Rebekah Evans and Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen were scheduled to meet either late Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning to finalize an agreement to lease a portion of the old Coldwell Banker building.

When asked by The Malibu Times Tuesday if the deal would go through, Evans responded, “I think so.” Malibu Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but on Friday said the two sides were still in negotiations.

The city inherited the 4,848-square-foot building that used to house Coldwell Banker, along with the Malibu Lumber Yard property and the Malibu Coast Animal Hospital, in 2006 when it bought the nearly 20-acre site of what is now Legacy Park for $25 million. The property remained vacant for more than a year after Coldwell departed, before Super Care Drugs agreed to a 10-year lease for a 3,000 square-foot portion of it in February 2010.

Evans did not say how much the city might charge for rent for the remaining 1,848 square-foot space, but the lease with Super Care Drugs provides the city with an annual rental income of $144,000 for the first two years. The rent is scheduled to increase by 3 percent the third lease year and every year thereafter. The city leased the Malibu Lumber Yard property to Malibu residents and developers Richard Weintraub and Richard Sperber for $925,000 per year, with the rent increasing every five years by 5 percent. The original agreement allowed for the city to receive an additional 30 percent of the mall’s annual profits after they exceed $2.2 million per year. However, in 2009, the council allowed Malibu Lumber to defer rental up to $1.5 million in total, with the money to be paid back by 2025, with no interest.

Rental from the three commercial spaces goes toward paying off maintenance fees for Legacy Park and certificates of participation for the purchase of the parkland.

For the chamber lease deal, Evans said a couple of issues had to be resolved. For one, she said, the building is outdated and lacks a functioning bathroom, requiring approximately $80,000 in renovation costs.

“We would have to come in and put some money and time and effort in making it livable,” Evans said. “That’s our concern right now, do we have the funding, do we fundraise for it?”

Evans said the city also wants a kiosk in the building to sell items with the Malibu brand. However, she said, staffing the kiosk is another matter that must be worked out.

Should the deal go through, Evans estimated it would take approximately six months to complete the renovation and make the space habitable. The chamber is currently located nearby in a larger office space at the Miramar building on Stuart Ranch Road, where its lease does not end until 2013. Evans said the chamber would try to sublease its current location until 2013, although finding a willing tenant could be problematic in the current economic climate with so much office space for rent in Malibu.

“I know that this office being next to City Hall is a benefit, and the size of the office is a benefit,” Evans said. “So that is one of the hopeful parts of it.”

Provided a sub-lessee could be found, Evans said the move would benefit the chamber by helping it save money on rent, as well as gaining added visibility. She anticipated that with added foot traffic to the new site, the chamber could stay open on weekends to offer information to visitors, staffed by volunteers.

“The benefit of doing it is being on the corner of PCH and Webb Way,” Evans said. “Being able to have parking, being able to be seen, being able to keep the doors open seven days a week is so huge for the community.”