Veteran developer Joseph K. Eichenbaum, who has solved countless real estate problems over the years, now faces one of box-car proportions.
He is planning to build a five-story, 127-room hotel--one of the first of a planned chain of Hampton Inns--on the site of a now-closed Victoria Station, which was one of eight restaurants in West Covina's Restaurant Row adjacent to the San Bernardino (10) Freeway.
The problem: What to do with five railroad cars--without tracks--which once served as a Victoria Station restaurant?
If Amtrak, Southern Pacific, Sante Fe or some railroad club want to bargain, he'll make them a deal they can't sidetrack.
Meanwhile, he plans to start construction this month on a $3.5-million hotel--with completion expected in the fall--to join the existing 130-room Holiday Inn and 130-room Raffles Hotel at the easterly end of Restaurant Row. Neither the Raffles nor the new Hampton will have restaurants, and will rely on the adjacent eateries to serve their guests.
Eichenbaum said this integration of the restaurant and hotel facilities is an innovation. Restaurant Row now includes Charley Brown's, Monterey Bay Canners, Love's, Mariposa Inn, Marie Callender's, El Torrito and the Holiday Inn restaurant.
Hampton Inns Inc., wholly-owned subsidiary of Holiday Corp., recently purchased the Victoria Station lease after that chain filed for bankruptcy last May. Eichenbaum said about 25 Hampton Inns are planned for the greater Los Angeles area.
Amenities at each will include a canopy entry, sunken lobby, outdoor swimming pool, hospitality suites and rooms for handicapped guests.
At the westerly end of Restaurant Row, a 13-story office building, the Eastland Tower, is under construction and is scheduled for completion in September. The $41-million structure is owned by an off-shore group headed by Ziad Hassen of West Covina.
But if anyone needs five railroad cars, signal Eichenbaum at 8500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 90211.