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Monday, May 23, 2022

Uncommon Calabasas Development Turns 20

The year 2018 will go down as a significant one for developer Rick Caruso. First, his firm Caruso not only celebrated the decade anniversary of Glendale’s Americana at Brand mall in May and saw a monumental, 2019-due resort project in Montecito emerge unscathed from January’s debris slide. There was also the Sept. 22 opening of his latest retail town center, the Palisades Village in Pacific Palisades, which was constructed by Sylmar-based construction giant Tutor Perini Corp. With retail wonderlands such as Glendale’s Americana and The Grove in Los Angeles’ Fairfax District, Caruso has been celebrated for bringing streaks of Main Street U.S.A. and Europa to the shopping experience. Yet long before any of those projects was even a glint in Caruso’s eye, the developer shepherded The Commons at Calabasas, a 215,000-square-foot commercial strip located at 4799 Commons Way, that, while not as centrally located as The Grove or as ambitious as the retail-and-residential Americana, has left a considerable imprint on its host city and has all but become a de facto Calabasas town square. However, that was not the retail center originally intended for this site, according to Calabasas City Councilmember James Bozajian, who was commencing his civic career at the time. “John Kilroy Development had planned a mixed-use development twice as dense – more like the Americana, with retail in the bottom and housing on top,” he told the Business Journal. While the City Council approved the late John Kilroy’s two-tiered project, Calabasas residents voted to overturn it, Bozajian explained. “A new Council came in and nixed the project and started from scratch,” Bozajian said. “We came to a compromise – that was 1997 to 1998 – and everyone was happy with it,” Bozajian recalled. “(Caruso) was brought in because everything was a stalemate.” That placation involved dissecting the original parcel into quarters, one of which Caruso (then named Caruso Affiliated Holdings) purchased to develop into The Commons, while the other three pieces turned into what is today Calabasas Park Center, Hilton Garden Inn Calabasas and City Civic Center, now home to City Hall. Bozajain remembered the collective enthusiasm when the City Council brought Caruso aboard to create The Commons. “Caruso’s projects had just really started springing up around the area,” Bozajian said. “We were thrilled to have him come.” By summer of 1997, the townhouse components of Caruso’s mixed-use project had been OK’d, with final approvals on the retail sections arriving later that year. As the mall would be situated on an empty lot not surrounded by housing, Caruso’s crew had carte blanche to engage in construction both day and night, Bozajian recalled. Bozajian had assumed a different role with the city of Calabasas by the time The Commons’ ribbon-cutting rolled around in November 1998. “I was the mayor and it was an exciting time,” Bozajian said, adding, “I still have my swag bag.” The project has been a boon to Calabasas ever since, bringing the city revenue via property, transient occupancy, sales and utility taxes – and also serving as an engine for local economic stimulus. “It came at just at the right time,” Bozajian said of The Commons. “The economy was picking up. People were beginning to recover from the (1994 Northridge) earthquake.” Expect the Commons — currently 100 percent leased with tenants including Williams-Sonoma, Sephora, Barnes & Noble and Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa among its 22 retailers and 13 restaurants — to build fresh synergy with the latest Trader Joe’s, which just opened Oct. 5 across the street from the mall’s entrance inside Courtyard at The Commons shopping plaza at 23741 Calabasas Road. Glendale Apartment Sale A six-unit multifamily compound at 334 W. Doran St. in Glendale traded hands for $2.15 million, or $358,333 per unit. The 6,248-square-foot apartment building occupies 7,815 square feet of land. Young Family Trust purchased the 1965-built structure from Marko Family Trust in the Sept. 11 deal. Ante Trinidad at Stevenson Real Estate Services served as broker for both buyer and seller. Trinidad, who has been with Stevenson Real Estate since 1996, told the Business Journal that he views the current Glendale multifamily sales market as being “very strong, as is most everywhere else in the greater Los Angeles area market.” Staff Reporter Michael Aushenker can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or maushenker@sfvbj.com.

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.

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