Anawalt Lumber will not open business in Malibu

Malibu Lumber will close by March 31. The reported deal between Anawalt Lumber and Malibu Bay Co. has fallen through, although both companies never confirmed there was a deal. Laura Tate/TMT

A Weyerhaeuser Co. spokesperson said it would close Malibu Lumber by March 31. This could leave the city without a lumberyard.

By Jonathan Friedman/Assistant Editor

In a story that has changed several times in the past few months, sources have confirmed that talks between Malibu Bay Co. and Anawalt Lumber have collapsed, and the West Los Angeles-based lumber company will not be opening a business on the Chili Cook-Off site once Weyerhaeuser Co. closes Malibu Lumber later this year.

A Weyerhaeuser spokesperson said Malibu Lumber is no longer interested in selling the business, but rather will close it down after selling all its remaining merchandise by March 31. With no other lumber company known to be taking over the property, this could mean the city will be without a lumber yard, a concept local contractors say will be devastating.

Two weeks ago, The Malibu Times learned that Anawalt had plans to purchase Malibu Lumber from Weyerhaeuser. Just days later, Malibu Lumber employees said their manager had told them the deal had fallen through, and instead Weyerhaeuser would sell its remaining merchandise and then close the business. Then, Anawalt would open a new business on the site. But this week, sources said that deal also went sour because of disagreements between Anawalt and Malibu Bay. Neither company has returned phone calls for this story, and in previous interviews neither company confirmed that there even were negotiations. Sources say the dispute was over the rent amount and that Anawalt would have had to install a new septic tank for about $300,000.

Malibu Lumber manager Erik Jorgensborg confirmed Anawalt’s decision not to open a business on the Chili Cook-Off site, but said he was unaware of the reason.

Kate Tate, spokesperson for Weyerhaeuser, said the company has made its final decision on what to do with Malibu Lumber.

“We had hoped to sell it,” said Tate, who would not confirm if Anawalt had been one of the companies Weyerhaeuser had spoken to about selling the business. “That has changed. We have ceased discussion on the sale of the business.” When asked if there was a possibility of Weyerhaeuser opening negotiations with new companies, she replied, “That’s over with.”

Kevin Peterson, president of the Malibu Contractors Association, said the latest news was a terrible blow for him and other locals in his profession.

“It’s a bummer, big time,” he said. “If any of the canyons are closed, you can’t even get to Thousand Oaks or Agoura to get supplies … We were all kind of relieved that Anawalt was coming in, and I just heard that it’s not. We all kind of feel the same, that’s it’s going to be bad.”

In November, several contractors said that if Malibu Lumber closed without a replacement taking over, they would have to charge more for their services, as much as 10 percent. This is because they would have to drive long distances to get supplies, since Santa Monica will no longer be an option because Weyerhaeuser’s Fisher Lumber in that city will also be closing soon.

“I’m going to have to go into town to get a screw,” said Malibu resident Budge Offer, who said he buys at Malibu Lumber regularly. “This is ridiculous.”

Tate at Weyerhaeuser said it might not take until March 31 for Malibu Lumber to be ready to close down. She would not speculate what the chances were that it would take that long. Malibu Lumber manager Jorgensborg estimated it would probably be only a couple more weeks until the store sold its remaining merchandise and was ready for closure.