The new owner of the gigantic, historic Sears Roebuck & Co. distribution center in Boyle Heights said he hopes to create a new community in and around the site.
Dating to the 1920s, the complex was once one of the major hubs in the country for distributing Sears catalog products. The nine-story distribution center closed in 1992, though a Sears department store still operates at the site.
"With a property of this size, I have the opportunity to develop an entire neighborhood," said Izek Shomof, who bought the 1.8-million-square-foot property at Olympic Boulevard and Soto Street on Wednesday.
Old industrial buildings converted to housing on nearby Seventh Street have proven successful, he said, and other developments are in the pipeline.
"I am encouraged by all the investment surrounding the Sears site, from the L.A. River revitalization, to the Clean Tech campus to Wyvernwood," Shomof said.
"I bought the property because I see redevelopment extending east," he said. "From the historic core to the arts district to the western edges of Boyle Heights along the L.A. River, there is a great demand for this renewed urbanism."
Shomof's company has started cleaning up the property, he said, and hopes to have parts of it ready for occupancy in 12 to 18 months.