Farmers Market Names New Tenants

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Owners of the landmark Farmers Market in the Fairfax district have unveiled the tenant lineup for a $45-million commercial real estate project that is being built in tandem with a much larger retail complex rising next door.

A.F. Gilmore Co.--the family-run company that has owned Farmers Market property for more than a century--will build about 170,000 square feet of commercial space on what are now parking lots located primarily to the north of the market along Fairfax Avenue.

The new retailers will include Cost Plus World Market, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Marmalade Cafe and the first Southern California outlet of Organized Living, an upscale housewares retailer.

"These new stores offer our customers an extension of what the market has always been," said Hank Hilty, president and chief executive of A.F. Gilmore Co. "We are extending [the market's food stalls] with a variety of new tenants."

The Gilmore project is rising near 575,000 square feet of high-end stores in the Grove at Farmers Market, which will open on property located mostly to the east of the original market along Third Street. The $100-million Grove complex, which is being built by Santa Monica developer Caruso Affiliated Holdings, will feature a Nordstrom department store, toy seller FAO Schwarz and a 14-screen multiplex theater.

Both projects are scheduled to open in March 2002.

Much of the original market will remain intact, but some new buildings have been and will be added as part of the expansion. The new structures are designed to blend in with the original complex's style and scale, Hilty said. A small cluster of shops was recently added to the northwest corner of the market and more new structures are planned for the east end.

The larger, new buildings being built to the north of the market--including about 60,000 square feet of office space, a first for the property--also have been designed to complement the original market, which is made up of a cluster of stalls and wood-sided buildings that have been added throughout the decades. In fact, some of the wood siding, fieldstone and even plants removed during the renovations of the old market will be recycled into the new structures, Hilty said.

"It's not just a building," Hilty said of the market. "We are intimately involved . . . in trying to promote the market as more than just a retail operation but as a place that has a real historic context."

Hilty's family has owned the property since 1880 when it was operated as a dairy farm. The market started out in the early 1930s after the family allowed local farmers to sell their produce from trucks parked on the family's land.

Throughout the years, the family has sold off pieces of the property, including a parcel now occupied by CBS Television City.

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