The owners of iconic Northridge roller skating rink Skateland have announced they plan to sell the property at 18140 Parthenia St. to homeless services nonprofit Hope of the Valley, which will transform the building into a bridge housing facility.Dave Fleming, who has run Skateland with his brother Mike since purchasing it from their parents in 1978, said the coronavirus pandemic has forced Skateland to stay closed for nearly nine months.“The last few years, we’ve been thinking about retiring,” Fleming told the Business Journal. “I had a conversation with my brother about, you know, maybe this is the time.”Fleming said the city wouldn’t allow Skateland to reopen even at a limited capacity because of a convergence of assumed risk factors, including its positioning in an enclosed indoor space and the prevalence of crowds doing “gym-like activity” that often requires heavy breathing.A PPP loan helped him pay bills and keep employees on payroll through August, but he said the ongoing nature of the crisis has dimmed the prospect of the rink’s future success and solidified his decision to sell.In July, Fleming got a call from Ken Craft, chief executive of Hope of the Valley and a friend to the Fleming family. Craft invited him to take a tour of Hope of the Valley’s just-opened bridge housing facility in North Hollywood, for which Fleming had sponsored a room as a donor.Craft had previously expressed interest in purchasing Skateland to create a housing facility on the property, but Fleming had declined. This time was different.“If the rink really isn’t going to be able to make it, what better use than to serve the community with a bridge shelter?” Fleming posited.Craft told the Business Journal he has been looking to buy a property in L.A. Council District 12 for years.“There is not a homeless facility center for single adults anywhere in that council district,” he said.
He explained the Skateland building is a perfect option because it is located in an M-1 Light Manufacturing zone and won’t draw out much of a NIMBY contingent compared to residential areas or those near schools or small businesses.He said that after getting L.A. City Council member John Lee’s approval, the city agreed to invest $6.2 million into the interior tenant improvements necessary to convert the building into a housing facility, including building around 100 cubicle-style rooms for residents.Craft said he still needs to raise about $300,000 for the down payment to the Flemings. He hopes to close the transaction by February and break ground in the spring in order to open in the fourth quarter of 2021.In addition to bedroom cubicles, the site will feature mental health counseling, drug and alcohol programs, job and vocational training, case managers, clinicians – “everything anyone would need … to overcome every obstacle and barrier that’s preventing them from being housed,” Craft said.