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Organic Grocer Erewhon Coming to Iconic South Lake Avenue Building

The location, once the site of a Borders Bookstore, has sat empty for 9 years. Erewhon expects to open in 2023

Published on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 | 2:14 pm

An artist’s rendering of what the former Borders Bookstore building at 475 S. Lakle Avenue will look like after it has been renovated into a new Erewhon store. [Image courtesy of Erewhon]
A local investment group aligned with the Los Angeles-based upscale organic grocery store chain Erewhon has closed escrow at 475 South Lake Ave., according to city sources.

The historic retail site is the former I. Magnin department store (later, it was a Borders Books store). It has been vacant for nearly a decade.

“We are very excited to have a new use at a long-vacated site. Erewhon will bring new vibrancy to our South Lake area while creating new jobs for area residents,” said Steve Mermell, Pasadena City Manager.

Yuval Chiprut is the chief development officer for Erewhon.

“Pasadena is an iconic community. It’s affluent, it’s sophisticated. I feel like it’s underserved in some capacity,” Chiprut told Pasadena Now. “It’s just a natural expansion location for us. It’s always been on the map for us and we’re ready.”

“We really fell in love with Lake Avenue and the history behind Lake and feel like it’s going to be the epicenter I feel of Pasadena again,” he said. “The location’s incredible, I love the historical nature of the building and its specific history.”

The 41,760 square foot historic and iconic building is spread over a basement level and two floors for retail. It was successfully marketed by CBRE beginning in the spring of 2020, following nine years of vacancy.

Erewhon’s CEO Tony Antoci and Chiprut envision the ground floor refurbished and built out for Erewhon, including a makeover of the outdoor common area, landscaping, rooftop and patios surrounding the building for shoppers to eat and hangout.

Chiprut outlined the extensive renovations he foresees.

“We’re going to be redoing all the common areas, the landscaping and the hardscaping on the exterior. We’re going to revitalize and rehabilitate the exterior of the building and obviously give it a paint job. We’re going to bring it back to its original historical value essentially. We’re going to do all new storefront glass. We’re going to be installing a new four-level elevator that goes from the basement all the way to the roof deck. We’re going to be utilizing the roof deck for some tenants and for public use. We’re going to be modernizing or replacing existing freight and three-level elevators. We’re going to be splitting the second floor unit into two separate tenants.”

The majority of the second floor will be occupied by Brella, a new model of app-enabled child care center that offers full-time, flexible, and on-demand infant care and preschool, along with parent education classes and family events.

Vice Mayor Andy Wilson, who represents Pasadena’s District 7 which includes South Lake Avenue, said the shopping district has been looking for a boost.

“These compelling community-friendly uses (Erewhon and Brella which are both innovative SoCal concepts) are certain to further activate South Lake and reassert this part of Pasadena as a leading destination for local residents and nearby communities,” Wilson said.

The new ownership is also engaged in negotiations with a specialty medical and wellness tenant for the final portion of the second floor of the building and is also contemplating a built-out wine storage facility for residents in the basement space of the building.

Erewhon has been described as a hub not only for health-food enthusiasts, but also for celebrities and influencers, thanks to a highly curated food offering that is a combination of organic, gluten-free, biodynamic, free-range, and vegan, all in a beautiful setting and tailored to the local community.

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