The building that once housed Frank’s Camera on Figueroa St. and Ave. 57 is setting off a one-building boom in the Highland Park economy.
Three new businesses in the building will hold their Grand Openings in March: Pacific Union International, a major realtor, Chops Meat and Fish market and the reopened Dave’s Chillin’ and Grillin’ sandwich shop located inside Chops Meat. The three have joined the building’s other current tenants, Arrive Enterprises, a boutique hotelier; Blind Barber, a barber-shop-plus-speakeasy, and In Transit, a video producer. Soon, a recording studio and a restaurant will open in the building, bringing the total number of businesses to eight.
None of which happened by chance. It takes talent and experience to identify an old building with great potential, raise the equity and financing to buy it, oversee a striking renovation and then lease it to an exciting mix of tenants. David Walker and Jeffery Birkmeyer, the commercial real estate developers behind the renaissance of the Frank’s Camera building, at 5715 Figueroa, have shown that they have what it takes.
The pair teamed up in 2014 to build a portfolio of standout properties in Los Angeles. Frank’s Camera was their first joint purchase, in 2014, for $3.4 million. Mr. Walker, who had worked for Wall Street firms on commercial mortgage-backed securities for over 20 years, had an extensive network of lenders and investors – as well as a sixth sense for what makes a development succeed. Mr. Birkmeyer, who holds a Master’s degree from SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture) had already purchased the Engine Company No. 17 building in downtown L.A., where he had his design firm – a harbinger of things to come for these partners.
Frank’s Camera was vacant and deteriorating when they bought it and they spent more time and money renovating it than they expected. But the favorable economy is making the building a great investment for them and a solid business base for their tenants. (They have since bought five more buildings, two of them in Highland Park.)
Here’s who’s doing business today in the Frank’s Camera building.
Arrive Enterprises, LLC, which has a corporate office on the second floor, owns and manages the award winning Arrive Palm Springs hotel and is building new Arrive hotels in Austin, TX and Wilmington, NC. Arrive was formed in 2013 by Matt Steinberg, a rock musician, software engineer, Stanford-educated lawyer and former Facebook product manager (#6 on the Facebook payroll).
Blind Barber: Barber shops are social places and bars are social places, so partners Josh Boyd, Nick Cakouros and Jeff Laub have combined the two at Blind Barber on the ground floor of the Frank’s Camera building. The front door on Figueroa opens into the barber shop and the back door of the barber shop opens into an up-scale lounge. While the concept is new for Highland Park, Mr. Boyd has opened other Blind Barbers – in Manhattan’s East Village, Chicago and Culver City.
Chops Meat and Fish: Jeff Perez and Ruben Perez, friends since their days at Cathedral High School, have opened Chops, a full-service butcher shop and fresh fish market, on the ground floor of the building. Chops also carries non-alcoholic drinks, seasonings, snacks, bread and crackers. Grand Opening is on March 10. Chopsmeatandfish.com.
Dave’s Chillin’ and Grillin’: Dave Evan is back and along with a partner, Ghaz Bazrafshan, is serving up his “wicked good” sandwiches at a counter alongside the butcher’s cases inside Chops Meat and Fish. Daveschillinandgrillin.com
Pacific Union International, with 20 offices in L.A., will serve home sellers and homebuyers across Northeast Los Angeles from its newest base on the 2nd floor of the building. The office’s more than 20 real estate professionals include the L34 Group, led by Deirdre Salomone and Terry Saltzman, and the Brad Holmes Group. Grand opening: March 15.
In Transit is the aptly named business of Peter Bragio and Jake Viramontez, who travel the world shooting videos for corporate advertisers and creating original series that are posted on YouTube.
Coming Soon to the Frank’s Camera building: Lemon Tree Studios, scheduled to open in May, will be the second music recording studio in L.A. built by Erik Nilsen, a musician and audio engineer. For more information: lemontreestudios.la.
Otoño, a tapas restaurant, is scheduled to open in May.
Bill Hendrickson, MBA, publisher of the Boulevard Sentinel, has extensive small business management, marketing and sales experience in corporate finance and real estate development and plays a not terrible game of golf.