Across Van Nuys this winter, they are demolishing some large buildings.
Prominent among the big, ugly ones now being hacked away and dumped into large containers, is the former Wickes Warehouse Furniture Store on Sepulveda Blvd. north of Oxnard.
The white, windowless, concrete structure, which housed perhaps the world’s ugliest collection of overstuffed and ungainly furniture, was “going out of business” for many years now. Down to only a few 15-foot leather sectionals, Wickes was doomed. Death came quickly. And the little old lady in Burbank cried for days in her beloved Barcalounger.
Located next to the Busway, on land where Metro once promised to develop housing near the bus, it is near many acres of unused Metro parking, within sight of Wendy’s, Costco, Fatburger and the Chevron oil storage yards. The enormous parcel could be the future sight of a walkable, green, agricultural and urban mass transit project.
But this is not Japan or Switzerland, Dubai or Chile, Italy or France, Canada or Australia, Malaysia or Singapore, India or China.
This is the United States of America. There is nothing we can accomplish if we keep talking and keep electing Congress. We talk big and build small.
To refute other’s grand visions and my own authorial imagination, this promising parcel will face insurmountable hurdles. Those obstacles will include tens of millions of dollars in legal, environmental and political challenges. Surely, it will one day emerge resplendent…..as an asphalt parking lot, perhaps to be rented by Costco for the convenience of its customers.
On Van Nuys Boulevard at Burbank, near where they have just planted eternally green Astro-Turf, the old Chevrolet dealer building is a carcass of bent metal, piles of stucco, and spongy insulation hanging on steel rafters like just killed sharks on dockside hooks.
This is another prominent corner, where Van Nuys Boulevard becomes Van Nuys, and where the street is eight-lanes wide, full of cars and trucks who out-speed each other. No pedestrian enjoys walking here. The sad people on plastic benches, who wait so many hours a day for the bus, they are watched with pity by those sitting inside their car.
The Piano Store Reborn
And on the NE corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and Burbank, the former piano store, where no shopper shopped and no pianist played, has been emptied and is now under construction to become something that is only one story tall, on a street whose width is five times the height of any building on it.
Retail watchers are anticipating the opening of something small and forgettable!
The excitement of waiting for monotony has whetted the appetite of many a passerby.
What will open here? A yogurt store! A nail salon! Or maybe another uniform store! Nothing with any imagination or ambition would dare show up here or it might suffer the fate of the ¾ empty Smoke City Market down the street.
It is like 1939 again in Van Nuys. The Depression is ending and the ones with money are tearing down, speculating, building and buying at depressed prices, banking on a recovery that will once again make Van Nuys safe for bad cooking and fast cars.