Old bookstore building sold

Christina Garcia
News Editor

The University has finalized the sale of the Bonita Building for an undisclosed sum to Edwin R. Leonard and Karen J. Leonard.

Escrow on the property closed at the end of January.

The Board of Trustees made the decision to sell the building in October 2016, Chief Financial Officer Avo Kechichian said.

“This was a very long and thoughtful process,” President Devorah Lieberman said.

The Bonita Building housed the University bookstore prior to the opening of the new site in the Vista La Verne residence hall.

After the bookstore moved, the University struggled to find retail space to fill the first floor of the building, as was required by the city of La Verne building permit.

“For the bookstore that was now empty, we worked closely with the city on compliance requirements,” Lieberman said. “There were city permits that required retail in the building and we had thought about ways to best use the space.”

The building had previously housed a bank branch.

“The building was a good asset when it was the bookstore as it met the city’s permits requiring retail,” Clive Houston-Brown, vice president of facilities and technology, said. “After the bookstore was moved, we struggled to find retail for the space.”

Kechichian said the decision to sell was threefold – the building would be too costly to renovate, it was not part of the University Master Plan and the city of La Verne had plans for the building in their Old Town La Verne Specific Plan to make the space into a cactus garden.

“All those three reasons led us to consider that the best option for the University was to sell the building,” Kechichian said.

The University would have had to pay $2 million in renovations to bring the building up to code, Kechichian said. The Board of Trustees decided that the cost would be too much.

“It didn’t make sense to spend $2 million on a building that was worth $2 million,” Kechichian said.

“The pros and cons were laid out to the Board of Trustees and they ultimately decided to divest the building and use the money elsewhere.” Houston-Brown said.

Kechichian said a number of offers were received.

“The money from the building now goes into the general fund for the University,” Houston-Brown said. “From there the funding can be used to help further the University’s 2020 vision and master plan.”

Christina Garcia can be reached at christina.garcia2@laverne.edu.

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