Tower Records filed bankruptcy in 2006, and since then its iconic Sunset Boulevard location has been in flux, but its current ownership group believes they have finally found the best fit for the old store.
Gibson Brands, known primarily for guitars, will be moving into the former Tower Records space at 8801 Sunset Blvd., ownership officials announced this week, which they said should please neighbors, the city and music aficionados across the city.
“Gibson was the [choice] ownership went ahead with because of the iconic-ness of what the site represented,” said Jay Luchs, executive vice president with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Retail and exclusive leasing agent for property owners Centrum Partnership. “They made the right deal, they made the right offer and it was the best deal for the neighborhood and the best deal for ownership.”
In 2012, Centrum Partners stopped pursuing a complete overhaul of the property. At the time, they proposed to the West Hollywood City Council, a three-story building that would have housed a gym, retail space and office space — as well as a video sign wrapped around the building. That plan was denied. In 2013, efforts by a group of concerned citizens trying to get the building labeled historic also stalled.
“I think it’s a great match because it is hard to find a well-known music industry player for that space,” said Jerome Cleary, who lives in a neighboring residence and helped lead the historic preservation efforts. “This was an iconic music location known across the world.”
Officials representing Gibson said they are still working on specific plans, but there would be massive improvements made. The company has leased the Tower Records location for 15 years through the initial agreement.
“I think the direction of the Tower Records location is going to be kind of a return to what it used to be,” said Gregory Camacho, tenant broker for Gibson. “They’ve got a whole inventory of musical instruments that they represent. Their thinking is to take it back to what it once was.”
Gibson Brands is much more than guitars these days, Camacho added. The company sells many kinds of instruments, as well as a variety of consumer electronics. The biggest throwback component likely will be the return of live music to the location, he added, noting Tower Records was known for hosting up-and-coming bands.
“[Gibson officials have] spoken to the city and the city is open to that, wanting to keep the vibe Tower Records had back in the day,” Camacho said.
Gibson will look to put money into the location, officials said, including money for multiple stages, inside and possibly outside.
“The building it going to have significant changes and modifications with it,” Camacho said. “I think [this situation] is so new — the opportunity to secure that location, when it came up, was something they had to exercise. Now, they’re just trying to get their arms around all the ways they can promote the space in the best light. The wheels are still spinning.”
Overall, the Tower Records location encompasses approximately 8,700 square feet, with 45-50 parking spaces — none of that will be modified with this lease agreement. Luchs said other inquires on the property included using it to house an art gallery or a telecommunications company.
Currently, the app company Flipagram is using the building. Employees at the company said they expect to move out by the end of the month and into a new location elsewhere in West Hollywood.
“It’s a gem of a property,” Luchs said. “The location is very central in L.A. to everything. There is a ton of history in regards to the site and even physically, without the historic side of things, it’s an amazing property. It brings a lot of memories. It’s amazing how many people have a story when I talk to them about the site — someone who played there, or a special album release party. [Gibson is] the next generation taking it to the next place.”
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