PASADENA, CA – RDC, an award-winning architecture, planning and interior design firm, is proud to announce the transformation of the historic I. Magnin & Company building. After a decade of vacancy, the iconic 45,000-square-foot 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.
“Erewhon’s 10th store is a special gem,” said Erewhon CEO Tony Antoci, “The Pasadena location brings life to a historical landmark along with Erewhon’s commitment to wellness and culinary excellence.”
“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.”
“Erewhon is continuously thinking about our customer experience and creating stores in places that reflect our core values of healthy food and community,” said Chiprut.
“By repurposing existing space, the redevelopment reduces the environmental impact of new construction,” said Elise Kunihiro, job captain with RDC. “The adaptive re-use of the landmark building aligns with Erewhon’s commitment to sustainability and responsible business practices while maintaining the cultural fabric of the community.”
Bringing Together Diverse Businesses Under One Roof
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.
Chiprut continued: “Pasadena is a natural fit for Erewhon, Brella and Tia, as is the revitalization of this iconic landmark of the community. We are so pleased to have the opportunity to be the steward of this place.”
“The opening of Erewhon, Brella and Tia on South Lake Avenue creates an exciting opportunity for Pasadena, the South Lake Business District, and our residents. The former I. Magnin building is an important anchor on South Lake, and these businesses will further energize this unique business district. These creative business models are bringing more jobs to our city in a fun, healthy and vibrant atmosphere,” said Jason Lyon, City of Pasadena Council Member, District 7.
“The new place combines historic charm with modern functionality,” observed Chiprut. “The adaptive reuse of the I. Magnin building aligns with our vision to contribute to the revitalization of the neighborhood and redevelop the building in an environmentally sustainable way.”
Reviving a Rich Architectural Heritage with Contemporary Design
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,” noted Kunihiro. “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.”
RDC’s Todd added, “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.
Erewhon is an independent, family-owned Certified Organic Retailer and Certified B Corp with 10 store locations throughout Southern California. Since 1968, Erewhon has been committed to providing organic foods and products to the communities they serve. Included in this commitment is keeping abreast of market innovations, supporting local farmers and brands, and protecting the environment. Recognized for its uncompromising quality standards and customer service, Erewhon provides an experience unlike any other for its loyal and passionate shoppers.
Founded in 1979, RDC is a full-service, award-winning architecture firm dedicated to making everyday places extraordinary. Practice areas include placemaking, retail, store planning, entertainment, hospitality, office, residential, interiors, and procurement. Headquartered in Long Beach, CA, the firm has 200 staff members working in offices located in Washington, DC, Rogers, AR, San Diego, CA, and Shanghai, China.