1928 Landmark Building Sale

Roger Vincent in the LA Times wrote about the Beverly Hills investor Bruce Gabbai that bought the two-story Marian Building at Little Santa Monica Boulevard and North Beverly Drive, one of the oldest commercial properties in the city. Buildings like these always carry a fascinating bit of Los Angeles history.

An 85-year-old Beverly Hills building erected in the golden age of Hollywood by movie mogul Jack Warner has been sold for $11.75 million to a local investor.

The two-story structure that curves along Little Santa Monica Boulevard downtown at North Beverly Drive is one of the oldest commercial properties in the city, real estate broker Mark Esses said. Warner built the 11,000-square-foot building in 1928 to house the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.

The young city had yet to open a public library, The Times reported early in 1929, but one was being planned. A post office was also in the works, and by the mid-1930s the city had both. Beverly Hills’ landmark Spanish Renaissance-style City Hall opened in 1932.

Warner, the president of Warner Bros. Studios, was one of many Hollywood luminaries who brought glamour to Beverly Hills after Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford built their legendary Pickfair estate there in 1919. Warner’s estate on Angelo Drive was larger than Pickfair and had a nine-hole golf course.

“Back then, Jack Warner was a king,” said Esses of California Realty Group.

The seller of the former Chamber of Commerce building, now known as the Marian Building, was Byer Properties of San Francisco, Esses said. Marian is the first name of the wife of Byer family patriarch Allan Byer, owner of clothing manufacturer Byer California and part owner of the San Francisco Giants baseball team.

The buyer was Behruz “Bruce” Gabbai, according to public records and real estate data provider CoStar group. The Beverly Hills resident was a founder of wholesale supply company Four Seasons General Merchandise Inc. of Los Angeles.

A Johnny Rockets diner on the ground floor has closed and will be replaced with a “well known” restaurant, Esses said.

There were multiple bidders for the property, and the price surpassing $1,000 a square foot is one of the highest in recent memory, he said. Pre-recession prices in Beverly Hills topped out around $500 a square foot.

“There are not many boutique buildings from the late 1920s left in Beverly Hills,” Esses said. “Maybe just a handful.”

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