Plan to buy Sears site falters

Times Staff Writer

The landmark Sears, Roebuck & Co. building in East Los Angeles is back on the market after a final purchase agreement with popular boxer Oscar De La Hoya and his partners was not reached by year end, the owner said Tuesday.

De La Hoya’s team acknowledged plans last summer to acquire the 23-acre property on Olympic Boulevard for about $70 million and turn it into a housing and shopping complex.

Owner Mark Weinstein said the deal stalled after about six months of negotiations with the boxer’s Golden Boy Enterprises and partner Manarino Realty, and no down payment had been made by year-end.

As a result, the owner said, other developers are interested in the 1920s-era property known for its 14-story Art Deco-style tower, although he declined to name them.

“I am working with a lot of people, and whoever makes the most secure, quickest, highest-price deal will get it,” Weinstein said. “It’s kind of like a horse race.”


He hopes to locate a buyer within 30 days and acknowledged that De La Hoya and his partners might still finish at the front of the pack.

Representatives of the boxer’s investors declined to comment on the deal’s status.

Recent problems in the finance industry have pushed down commercial real estate prices, but Weinstein downplayed the effect of the credit crunch on the ability of well-financed investors, including the Golden Boy team, to buy real estate.

De La Hoya’s investors, led by John Long and Robert Manarino, are “incredibly capable and visionary -- and very conservative,” he said. “They want certainty in an uncertain world. I appreciate that, but I want to get the project started.”

Weinstein’s original plans for the building included 480 condominiums, 180 apartments and 750,000 square feet of stores and restaurants laid out on streets that would run through the site.

Instead, he decided last year to sell the property, which still includes an active Sears department store on the first floor.