Caruso Affiliated has struck a deal to purchase the former Masonic Temple in Glendale and plans to repurpose it as a mixed-use building.
The deal with owner Frank De Pietro & Sons includes the 56,000-square-foot former temple property at 232-36 S. Brand Blvd., two adjacent buildings and an adjoining vacant lot. The properties are across the street from Caruso’s Americana at Brand shopping center.
Caruso Affiliated, headquartered in L.A.’s Fairfax District, signed the purchase agreement this week after almost five years of direct discussions with De Pietro. Neither side was represented by brokers; terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The deal is not set to close until the fourth quarter, said Dennis De Pietro, a partner at the Eagle Rock owner-builder firm founded by his father. He said the long escrow period would allow his firm to find another property to replace the Masonic Temple in its portfolio as part of a 1031 exchange, which allows sellers to defer taxes on capital gains.
Los Angeles County records show De Pietro & Sons paid $1.3 million for the Masonic Temple in 1985. The following year it purchased the adjacent lot, at Brand Boulevard and Colorado Street, for $2 million. It completed its assemblage in 1987 with the $1.2 million acquisition of the site on the opposite side of the temple. The properties back up to Glendale Central Park.
In a statement, Caruso Affiliated said it would follow through on plans conceived by De Pietro & Sons to repurpose the temple property, built in 1927, into a mixed-use venue with creative office space and ground-floor retail.
De Pietro & Sons began an adaptive reuse process in 2011 after the former tenant, repertory theater company A Noise Within, moved to Pasadena, Dennis De Pietro said.
The renovation has been permitted, and De Pietro said the firm struck the deal with billionaire developer Rick Caruso’s firm in part because his large-scale retail experience would allow for the completion of the conversion at a speed that fit the time line of a prospective tenant, which he declined to name.
“Caruso Affiliated is used to dealing with retailers where time is critical, so Rick has the wherewithal to expedite the process,” he said. “We believe that Rick Caruso and Caruso Affiliated will bring to fruition the project we originally envisioned and will do so on the schedule that is required by a major office tenant. Our fundamental goal was to preserve the building, so as stewards of the building we’ve accomplished the primary mission.”
Industry sources said the tenant interested in the building was real estate services firm CBRE Group Inc., which would move to the site from its Universal City office. Lew Horne, president of the greater L.A. and Orange County region for CBRE, declined to comment on the rumor.
William R. Boyd, senior managing director at Charles Dunn Co. Inc., said that land typically sells in the area for $100 a square foot. However, it would be difficult to estimate the worth of the Masonic Temple on that basis.
“It’s such a unique property and the changes will make it more valuable, so no one will really know the price until the comps are public,” he said.
Both De Pietro and Caruso declined to comment on the sale price.
The nine-story art deco tower was designed by architect Arthur G. Lindley and housed at least six different Masonic organizations. De Pietro said his family’s firm acquired the two properties on either side of the building in order to preserve it.
“We wanted to prevent an owner from demolishing it,” he said.
In a statement, Caruso called the property an architectural gem.
“We are glad to extend our presence in Glendale through a project that truly offers a prime example of adaptive reuse,” he said. “The prospect of reinvigorating it, preserving its architectural history while providing the community additional modern office space and several new social hangouts is exciting.”
Caruso Affiliated, developer of Americana at Brand and the Grove, is in the process of developing a mixed-use luxury residential tower south of the Beverly Center at 333 La Cienega Blvd. and a retail center on a 2.7-acre site in Pacific Palisades.
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