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Old Toy Shop Building to Play Role in New Center

December 27, 1987|TIA GINDICK | Tia Gindick is a Woodland Hills free-lance writer. and

The old Macabob Toy Co. Building at El Nido Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena can do with some help.

Originally constructed as an elegant Regency-style antique shop and tearoom with a magnificent garden of rare flowers and plants, then later reborn as a toy shop, the 58-year-old structure today stops just short of being a dilapidated mess.

Not only is it rundown, but many of the arched doorways and windows, along with the two fireplaces inside, have been walled up. The garden is non-existent. Unlike many older buildings, this one gives no sense of the charm that once was.

But Pasadena doesn't let go easily of its old buildings, and in its third incarnation, the Serendipity Tea House-turned-Macabob Toy Co. will become a key component of, what else, a shopping and office complex. LMC Investments Inc., a Studio City-based development firm specializing in office complexes and corner shopping plazas of the 25,000-square-foot variety, has taken on the $3-million project that will be known as Colorado Plaza.

Working a shopping complex around a historical building is a mixed bag, says LMC President Leon Caldwell. The City of Pasadena, pleased to have a developer come in and do something with what is otherwise a ramshackle site, has been very accommodating, promising to expedite normal approval procedures and reduce the required parking, Caldwell said.

LMC's concession was to maintain the building. Not so difficult in itself, he said, except that essentially, the building with its multitude of small, square rooms will be gutted on the inside and new plumbing and electricity installed.

Architect Richard E. Dell of Pasadena is giving the proposed 34,000-square-foot shopping complex a Mediterranean Spanish theme.

Michael L. Keele is LMC's construction consultant, an ongoing relationship with LMC since the firm was formed four years ago.

Caldwell and Keele met during a real estate transaction while Keele was a developer and Caldwell, a former certified public accountant with Arthur Anderson Co. and financial analyst with Daylan Co., was working in a real estate brokerage.

The hope is that the renovated teahouse-toy store will be occupied by a major restaurant. A 5,600-square-foot restaurant pad building, ideal for a self-service-type restaurant, and a 20,5000-square-foot L-shaped building, will complete the retail construction.

There will be 2,800 square feet for commercial office tenants on the second floor of the Macabob Building. Parking for 196 cars will be on the east side of the complex, part of it over an adjacent wash, which will be covered with concrete slabs.

Altogether, 50% of the currently existing buildings on the site will be demolished, including a farmhouse built in 1900, which has been used as storage. Pasadena's final approval of all plans is expected within the first quarter of 1988, Caldwell said, and construction will begin immediately thereafter, with completion expected by late summer.

Financing will either be a joint venture with a Japanese firm, with which Caldwell is negotiating, or syndication.

LMC Investments has 19 other projects either completed or under way between Seattle and Malibu. Several have come within kissing distance of historical preservation--a neon sign saved, a restaurant on an old pier face lifted--but this is the first time LMC has gotten involved with the real thing. There's no sentimentality about it, however.

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