Embracing the passage of time and all elements that come with it, the City of Beverly Hills last week closed escrow on the Clock Drive-in Market building at 8423 Wilshire Blvd., paying $16.5 million. The property, which rests a stone’s throw from where the Wilshire/La Cienega subway station is slated to open in 2023, last changed hands in 2000, when Automotive Resource, LLC purchased the 8,500-square-foot building for $2.85 million.
Originally built in 1929 as a drive-in market with a large apartment (later turned office space) upstairs and a small standalone gas station at its southeast corner, the Spanish Colonial Revival style building, designed by C.W. Wilson and Sons, was listed on the Beverly Hills Register of Historic Properties in 2016. The L-shaped one-story and two-story building of brick and frame cost roughly $32,500 to build according to the original permit. The two- story portion is dominated by a monumental square shape clock tower, which gave the building its name.
A phenomenon throughout Southern California born in the mid-1920s in tandem with the prevalence of automobiles, drive-in markets were essentially early mini-malls tailored to the mobile shopper. The departments within the Clock Market originally provided baked goods, meats, fruits, vegetables and other groceries.
By the late 1930s, the character of the street had changed, and the usage of the structure changed as well, becoming an automobile showroom. In more recent years, the property operated as an Audi and Porsche dealership until 2015 when Beverly Hills Porsche moved to West Los Angeles. It is currently leased to O’Gara Coach through June 30, 2027 and the lease was assigned to the City as part of the sale. The tenant has options to extend the lease through as late as June 30, 2037, according to City spokesperson Keith Sterling.
“The plans are to continue to lease the property at this time,” Sterling said. “The Strategic Planning Committee/Southeast Task Force had previously identified this property as an opportunity site given its proximity to the future La Cienega Station. Any plans would be subject to further evaluation and public discussion.”
According to records from the Los Angeles County Assessor, the property contains approximately 19,300 square feet of land area and is contiguous with the westerly boundary of the Metro staging area.
“Upon expiration of the lease, the property could one day be utilized in conjunction with future parking and/or transportation infrastructure in the area,” Sterling predicted. “The property’s existing layout combined with other future improvements to the surrounding streetscape could make the property suitable as a public gathering space near La Cienega Station that serves nearby restaurants, retailers and entertainment-oriented businesses.”