From Hardware Store to Healthcare: When Backup Plans Need Backup Plans

One of our goals with every project is to anticipate the unexpected, and to plan for every contingency, but there are some developments you just can’t predict. In those times, the ability to overcome challenges tests your resolve, creativity and values. How do you get to “everyone wins” when it seems like the sky is falling?

A few years ago, we started development of a site on Hollywood Boulevard—not the celebrity-laden stretch, but a few blocks to the east, on the edge of a few neighborhoods, where large developments were still possible. We had a deal to build a brand new Orchard Supply Hardware for Lowe’s; a massive custom build to their specifications. Among their unique requirements were a  mezzanine and secure outdoor garden center, along with underground parking and high ceilings. It was, at the time, one of the largest construction projects we had undertaken, but we had a clear vision and the utmost confidence in the deal. After long months of construction, where we tackled the usual array of construction and permitting issues, along with a record amount of winter rain, we opened the OSH in late 2017 to great fanfare. It was one of the brand’s new flagship California locations, and became an immediate asset to the often overlooked East Hollywood community.

But less than a year later, just weeks before we listed the building for sale, the one thing we never anticipated happened. The new CEO & President of Lowe’s announced the impending closure of all OSH stores. The abrupt shift in strategy by Lowe’s caught everyone off-guard—until then, Lowe’s had been growing the OSH brand, with multiple new locations in California, and expanding into new markets, including Florida. 

Faced with a soon to be unoccupied property, we took a step back and looked at the property as though it were a new project. As a custom build, it was a challenge to see the unique attributes of the OSH, but with a little perspective, we found potential for a wide variety of uses for the building. In addition to that ample underground parking, it’s just a couple of blocks from a metro station; the space is large and easily converted to a variety of uses. And most importantly, we’d developed great new relationships and partnerships in the process. So we shifted into sales mode and spread the word that the space was available.

In the meantime, we got creative to ensure that the vacant space would contribute to the neighborhood during the transition. We commissioned 12 local street artists to design a mural more than a block long, creating an instagrammable moment out of a construction wall.  

A few months later, after some intense negotiation and a number of false starts, we closed a deal to sell the property to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. A far cry from our original vision for the building, it’s a truly creative reuse of the space—mezzanine, garden center and all. The foundation will have a new home; and we successfully transitioned from potential misstep to another success. It’s another example of our top goal and guiding principle—everyone wins.