The anticipation was palpable as hundreds of eager customers lined up along South Lake Avenue for the opening of the new Erewhon Pasadena store Wednesday morning. The store now occupies the historic I. Magnin & Company building which first opened in 1949.
Following 10 years of vacancy after a Borders bookstore shuttered in 2011, the 45,000 square-foot multi-level former department store at 475 S. Lake Ave. also features Brella, a child care center, and Tia, a women’s health care clinic.
“Our tenth store is a special gem,” said Erewhon CEO Tony Antoci, who grew up in and around Pasadena, and remembers the former I. Magnin Building well.
Antoci added, “The Pasadena location brings life to this great historical landmark. We’ve been wanting to be in Pasadena for so long. It’s just such a natural fit for us.“
“This is such a landmark store,” said Councilmember Tyron Hampton, who added, “This will be an anchor that will really set South Lake Avenue in a new direction.”
Councilmember Jason Lyon said in a prepared statement, “The opening of Erewhon, Brella and Tia, on South Lake Avenue creates an exciting opportunity for Pasadena, the South Lake business district, and our residents. The former I. Magnin building is an important anchor on South Lake, and these businesses will further energize this unique business district. These creative business models are bringing more to our city in a fun, healthy and vibrant atmosphere.“
Patrons flooded the store after waiting in line for at least two hours.
“This is really exciting, and totally worth it,” said Antonio Hernandez, of Eagle Rock, one of the first in the customer line, which stretched at least two blocks south of the building. “I used to drive all the way out to the beach just to come to the store.”
“This has always been one of my favorite stores in LA,” added a gleeful Elizabeth Goodwin, of Pasadena.
The Pasadena store is the 10th location for the Southern California-based organic retailer, which first opened in 1968.
In a statement, architect Terry Todd of RDC – Architects, who was at the opening, said, “The I Magnin building revitalization offered us a special opportunity to blend the architecture of the original 1949 landmark with modern functionality. The result is a multi-use destination that resonates with the vibrant character of the South Lake Avenue corridor.”
The historic building was designed in a Late Moderne style by architect Harold C. Chambers and landscape architect Ruth Schellhorn, and the city of Pasadena has designated the building as a historical landmark.
The building has also gained Mills Act approval, the most important economic incentive program in California for the restoration and preservation of qualified historic buildings by private property owners. The Act provides property tax relief for owners who actively participate in the restoration and maintenance of their historic properties, such as the I. Magnin building.
Most recently occupied by Borders Books and Music, the restored historic building sat empty for over a decade. The upscale organic retailer features fresh fruits and vegetables, along with a kitchen in the rear of the store, which prepares fresh sushi, baked goods, desserts, pizza, and rotisserie chicken. The store also features its own line of fresh grocery products.