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June 25, 2024
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Historic I. Magnin & Company Department Store in Pasadena Transformed into a New Mixed-use Destination


The historic, 45k sf I. Magnin & Company building in Pasadena has been transformed into a highly anticipated mixed-use destination. After a decade of vacancy, the iconic 45k sf, multi-level former department store is now preparing to open as a highly anticipated mixed-use destination featuring a new upscale Erewhon grocery store location, as well as Brella, an app-enabled childcare center, and Tia, an integrated women’s healthcare clinic.

The building is owned by 475 South Lake Avenue, LLC, an investor consortium led by Yuval Chiprut, also Erewhon’s chief development officer, and has been redeveloped working closely with Long Beach-headquartered architecture firm RDC.

The I. Magnin building revitalization offered a special opportunity to blend the architecture of the original 1949 historic landmark with modern functionality,” said Terry Todd, associate principal with RDC. “The result is a multi-use destination that resonates with the vibrant character of the South Lake Avenue corridor."

The I. Magnin & Company building spans three levels including a basement level. Most recently occupied by Borders Books & Music, the building sat vacant for roughly a decade. This revitalization of the property activates the publicly accessible areas surrounding the building with upgraded amenities, hardscape, landscape, and generous outdoor spaces with seating at the pedestrian level. Erewhon occupies space on the ground floor and basement. The second floor houses Brella, an app-enabled childcare center, and Tia, an integrated women’s healthcare clinic, both opened in late July.

Image Courtesy of UC Santa Barbara Photo Archive
Image Courtesy of UC Santa Barbara Photo Archive
The I. Magnin & Company building is named for the iconic I. Magnin luxury department store. Originally opened in 1949 in the distinctive Late Moderne style by renowned architect Harold C. Chambers and landscape architect Ruth Shellhorn, the building is a significant local cultural touchstone, 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, providing property tax relief for owners who actively participate in the restoration and maintenance of their historic properties.

RDC restored and preserved the building’s original architectural features. The changes included replacing the building entry doors with modern aluminum storefront characteristic of Chamber’s design, removing entrance awnings added at a later date, substituting the exterior lights with fixtures resembling the original, and refurbishing the deteriorating original wood framed fixed windows.

According to Todd, not only did the owners make a considerable investment in reclaiming the historic exterior appearance, but they also rehabilitated the structural integrity by upgrading the entire plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems and replacing the roof to meet modern sustainability goals safeguarding the future longevity of the building.”

RDC worked in close collaboration on the Erewhon store interiors with architects Humberto and Charlotte Nobrega. RDC used 3D technology to scan the building, documenting the historic architectural details and technical specifications of its construction.

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