Hold the wrecking ball: Hollywood’s Amoeba Music is here to stay — for now
Amoeba Music in Hollywood has stood as a beacon for resilience in an industry disrupted by digital downloads and streaming music services. Since 2001, the store, a social-gathering place for live music as much as it is a retail outlet, has become the rare independent space to seemingly thrive at a time when record shops are an endangered species.
This week, though, the store had to take to social media to assure fans that the multi-level mecca to independent retail would not be the latest casualty of a struggling industry — at least not now.
“We’re going to remain in our building for the duration of our lease — which is several years — and Amoeba and the building owner are open to us potentially staying longer,” the indie retail giant posted Monday evening on Twitter.
Independent music retail has proved to be a volatile business over the years.
Echo Park’s beloved Origami Vinyl, which shuttered its doors earlier this year, relied heavily on sales of new vinyl. But it struggled to turn a profit as the once-vintage format became mainstream again. Once the providence of indie outlets, LPs can now be had at the local Whole Foods, not to mention Amazon and Urban Outfitters.
“It was a labor of love, but it wasn’t sustainable,” Origami owner Neil Schield told The Times in March, adding that new records have only a 30% to 35% markup.
And yet for many, record stores remain an irresistible lure. L.A.’s booming downtown neighborhood, for instance, recently saw the arrival of Pop Obscure, an outlet specializing in used product. Though we live in an age of streaming, music retail is a highly prized neighborhood staple, even as customer preferences shift online.
Amoeba’s statement that it was staying put was in response to the local site LAist, which speculated that the store would soon “get the wrecking ball” to make way for a large residential tower.
Cliff Goldstein, a managing partner at GPI, which owns the 50,000-square-foot retail store at 6400 Sunset Blvd., said any plans for the property were “speculative” and “premature.”
“Amoeba owned the property. They decided to sell the property. We purchased it,” he said, noting that the deal was consummated about a year ago.
“We intend to make an application to redevelop the property. At the same time, we’re talking to Amoeba and have a great relationship with them. We’re talking to them about a longer-term commitment to remain. We’re open to those discussions, and we’re having those preliminary discussions with them.”
Top executives at Amoeba, reached via phone and email, declined to comment beyond what was posted on Twitter, stressing only their commitment to staying in Hollywood and confirming that they did indeed sell the building. Goldstein would not comment directly on the terms of the lease, only to say that it’s “a number of years.”
Still, he added, “We don’t have a long-term lease with Amoeba.”
Signing one, however, is not yet off the table.
“Maybe we will end up with a long-term lease with Amoeba,” he said. “That would change what we would intend to do. They have a number of years left on their lease, and we are having discussions with them.”
Goldstein said it’s not contradictory for the company to both pursue a long-term lease with Amoeba as well as look at redevelopment possibilities for the space. He noted that the company had had “many renderings” completed for what could be done with the location, but that it had not yet filed any applications to redevelop the spot.
“We have to plan a number of years in advance and allow ourselves some options,” he said, “based upon what happens to our tenant and the market.”
For its part, Amoeba posted on Twitter that it intends to make Hollywood a long-term home regardless of the future of its current location.
“We are committed to staying in Hollywood,” the company wrote, “and we appreciate all your concern and support.”
Follow me on Twitter: @toddmartens
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1:10 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details.
This article was originally published at 5:20 p.m. Sept. 13, 2016.
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