A vast but vacant Sears Roebuck & Co. product distribution center in Boyle Heights dating to the 1920s has sold for $29 million to a Los Angeles developer who plans to bring it back to life, perhaps with housing, offices and stores.
The building has been a fixture on the East Los Angeles skyline for decades.
Izek Shomof, who has renovated several office buildings and hotels in downtown’s historic core, bought the sprawling nine-story Olympic Boulevard complex, where workers once glided on roller skates among far-flung racks of merchandise to fill orders from the popular Sears mail order catalog.
The seller was another downtown developer, Mark Weinstein, who acquired the 1.8-million square-foot property nearly a decade ago but was unable to get his own planned mixed-use project there underway.
The property is big enough to support a range of uses in the years ahead, Los Angeles real estate consultant and historian Greg Fischer said.
“You can actually create your own neighborhood in that space because there is nothing in there people are so wedded to that they would be sorry to see it go,” Fischer said.
A Sears department store on the first floor is still in operation, but the catalog center closed in 1992 and the property was sold as part of a cost-cutting program. That left a hole in the neighborhood around Olympic and Soto Street, where the Sears complex employed more than 1,000 workers at the time it closed.
The illuminated Sears sign atop a 14-story tower above the building was a beacon for Eastsiders returning home on area freeways for decades. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.