Los Angeles Sears building: Owner discusses makeover plan


Real estate developer Izek Shomof, known for rehabbing properties in the historic core of downtown Los Angeles, is making plans for his newest acquisition.

"When I saw it on the outside, I said the size of this building can be its own community by itself," said Shomof. "It sits over 22 acres of land, and the building is 1.8 million square feet, and that by itself is a community by itself; a town by itself."

"Back in the heyday, it used to be the hub of the community -- everything was happening here -- and it went away for some time, and that's what we are trying to restore," added Shomof.

When the entire building was used as the Sears catalogue distribution center, it was known for its roller-skating employees, neon sign and sweeping vistas of downtown L.A.

John Chavez worked there as a teenager.

"I used to pull out the orders that would come in and throw them down the chute," said Chavez. "Sometimes we used the chute for slides too; it was kind of fun."

Now, Shomof is setting an ambitious goal: a multi-use complex of stores, lofts, restaurants and creative space, accommodating about 1,500 people -- all to open three years from now.

"There are a lot of apartments and complexes out here, so if it gave more jobs to people around here, that would be cool," said Ryan Macias of Boyle Heights.

"If they're going to use it for the community so the kids can experience new things, it would be great, but it's a landmark; it's East Los Angeles," said Chavez.

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