Los Angeles' next hot retail project will not be located on tony Rodeo Drive or along trendy Robertson Boulevard, but instead at a former lumber yard in Malibu.

Real estate developer Richard Weintraub is planning a 30,000-square-foot retail center at the site of the former Malibu Lumber Yard on Pacific Coast Highway at Cross Creek Road.

The development, which will break ground by the end of the month, is across from Malibu Colony and will include a mix of local and national tenants.

The latter include New York City mainstays Intermix and Scoop, both multi-brand women's boutiques; James Perse; Maxfield; and locals such as McLean Gallery.

Weintraub said he was not interested in more mainstream high-end retail tenants like Gucci and Prada.

"It's more Melrose and TriBeCa than Rodeo Drive," said Weintraub, president of Weintraub Financial Services Inc. "Malibu is trying very hard to not become another Aspen. We turned down Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive tenants."

The two-story project, which sits on a 2.7 acre parcel, is slated to open next summer. Weintraub is co-developing the project via the Malibu Lumber LLC entity with Richard Sperber, president of ValleyCrest Cos. Matt Construction Corp. will build the development, which will use some of the old lumber buildings.

Last year Malibu Lumber LLC signed a 54-year ground lease with the city to develop the site after a request for proposals. The city purchased the property from former Univision owner Jerry Perenchio two years ago. There were nine proposals for the site.

"My plan was for a facility that was more local serving," said Tony Dorn of Beitler Commercial Realty Services, who had submitted a plan with partner Barry Beitler. "We were hoping for more local transactions, but I can't fault the owners; that's the business."

The project will include about 15 tenants, including four local tenants. Denise McLean, owner of her namesake gallery, said that she had to close the last site of her gallery at the adjacent Malibu Country Mart on May 31 because of escalating rents. She said a more affordable deal at the lumberyard project will allow her to reopen.

Monthly per-foot rental rates for non-local tenants are said to be in the $15-$18 range. Currently, Robertson Boulevard rents are in the $18-$20 range.

"Malibu is a town where the locals are so important. As you lease to bigger names it is still important to keep locals around if you can," said Jay Luchs of CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., the leasing agent for the property.


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