Lionel Richie Buys Beverly Hills Store

Times Staff Writer

For the third time in about a year, Lionel Richie has purchased a property in the Beverly Hills area--this time the old Doubleday Bookstore on little Santa Monica Boulevard near Rodeo Drive.

The 5,000-square-foot store, at 9477 Santa Monica Blvd., was bought in a probate sale handled by Security Pacific National Bank for the estate of Walter and Mary Virginia Martindale, who were killed in a plane crash in June, 1983. Richie paid $3.5 million for the building, sold by Paul Homsy of Merrill Lynch Commercial Real Estate.

The structure, which was known by locals as Martindale’s even after Doubleday bought the business in 1974, will be refurbished into retail space--"most likely into one large store,” Homsy said, “and at the moment, it looks like it will be a clothing store, though there are several transactions in the offing.”

For years, Martindale’s served as a meeting place of movie-industry literati. The biggest stars in the world had charge accounts there.


It was founded by Walter Martindale in 1929. Actually, he sold cigars and magazines in the shop when he opened it one week before the stock market crash.

He had learned the cigar and magazine business as a boy by working at his father’s store in downtown Los Angeles. His father had learned the trade from his father, who operated a cigar and magazine stand in Los Angeles City Hall.

During the Depression, Walter Martindale added books to his stock. Then book sales were so good that he dropped the cigars but kept the magazines.

After the Beverly Hills store proved successful, he opened other bookstores in downtown Los Angeles, the Wilshire area, Century City and Phoenix. After he sold the business to Doubleday, he and his wife retired to a life of travel and flying. They were both 77 and licensed pilots for more than 35 years when they died in their Beechcraft Baron only minutes after takeoff from Van Nuys Airport. (They left a daughter, two sons and seven grandchildren.)


Like the Martindales in their younger days, Richie is adding to his real estate interests. Last fall, the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter bought an office building at 145 S. Rodeo Drive next to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and about a year ago, he purchased a 1920-era, four-bedroom house in Bel-Air.

Actors and other performers headed East might find this helpful:

Metropolis Properties, a New York City-based residential brokerage firm, has developed a program to help entertainers find and purchase New York City apartments more easily.

Evelyn Weiser, director of the company’s 164 East 64th St. office, said that many co-op boards are “reluctant to grant approval for a performer.” Another spokesman for the firm explained that “in some cases, the boards don’t want the opera singer because of the singing. In some cases, the boards are concerned about security and the possibility of problems from fans. But in some cases, they just don’t want performers--period.” There are more co-ops than condos in New York City.

Seems Howard Caine, chairman of the joint-housing committee representing the three actors’ unions seeking to build affordable housing for performing artists in Hollywood, was wrong when he said that times have changed since there was a sign, saying, “No dogs or Actors Allowed.”

Seems he was wrong when he said, “Now people know what good neighbors we make.” He was wrong IF he was talking about some co-op boards in New York. As the Metropolis Properties spokesman observed, “You don’t seem to have this problem on the West Coast!” Thank the stars! (Excuse the pun.)

For performers interested in this program, there is no referral fee, and the New York company screens potential residences. As Weiser put it, the firm “does some of the shopping in advance,” listing buildings with boards “amenable to performing artists.”

Floor plans are available by mail, and showings of the units can be arranged for a local contact--a friend of the buyer, an agent or a banker. Units for sale start at $250,000; for-rent, from $1,500 a month.


That magnificent Morey Mansion has opened as the first bed-and-breakfast inn in Redlands. “It’s been a long wait but exciting now that we’re finally under way,” Carl Ljungquist, who owns the house at 190 Terracina Blvd. with Gary Conway, said. Getting city approval took 2 1/2 years.

Built by orange rancher and shipbuilder David Morey in 1890, the 5,000-square-foot, Victorian-style house has seven rooms that Ljungquist and Conway rent, with breakfast and hors d’oeuvres, by the night from $70 to $90, Sundays through Wednesdays, and $85 to $105, Thursdays through Saturdays. No children, pets or smokers (except on the porch) are allowed.

If crowded freeways and sidewalks are getting you down, here is an alternative: the Gauer Ranch in the lush Alexander Valley of Sonoma County.

Originally a working cattle ranch, the 5,620-acre property now has 380 acres of income-producing vineyards as well as some championship quarter-horse stables and a 13,000-square-foot main residence with marble and tile floors, handmade-brick wall panels, billiard room, gym with sauna and spa, and (of course!) a wine cellar.

The grounds have a putting green, garden with waterfall, guest house, 79-foot-long swimming pool, 10 staff homes, 30 other facilities and the potential for development of ranchettes of between 20 to 100 acres each.

Edward and Marion Gauer, who have owned the place since 1970, “want to sell to somebody who can develop the ranch to its full potential,” a spokeswoman for Fred Sands Realtors, which has the listing, said. It would also be a retreat from the hectic life in the city. At what price? $14 million.