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LANDMARK WHIZIN SHOPPING CENTER SOLD.

Byline: GREGORY J. WILCOX

For the first time since it began taking shape more than half a century ago, Agoura Hill's landmark Whizin Shopping Center is not part of the family.

The Whizin Foundation sold it for $26.2 million to a Calabasas-based investment company. The name is not going to change, though.

Bruce Whizin, the foundation's president made sure that stipulation was written into the deed.

And his memory of that long-ago investment decision of his late father, Art, remains in sharp focus.

``This conversation is taking me back to March 3, 1954, when I got out of the service and went to work there at 5 a.m. on March 5,'' Bruce Whizin said Friday afternoon.

Their planning actually started in November the previous year while Whizin was home on leave.

``My dad asked me what I wanted to do when I got out of the service, and I said probably go back into business with you.''

His father had recently bought 320 acres that was part of Paramount Ranch and they went to check out the land. They ate at a little 12-stool, three-table hamburger stand with a couple of Mobile Oil Co. gasoline pumps out front.

Art Whizin bought that, too, and began renovating the property.

By Mother's Day 1954 all that remained was a slab, but customers came anyway, so many that Art Whizin set out some tables and chairs. Bruce worked at the griddle, a two-pot steam table, two fryers and a small, four-burner stove.

They knocked out 48 dozen eggs that morning, and Bruce Whizin still remembers how intense the pace was. By the middle of the day, it was hard to hang onto stuff.

``When you break that many eggs, it's like rubbing your skin against sandpaper,'' he recalled.

Soon they built a rodeo arena and held rodeos every Sunday. That lasted three years, then came motorcycle racing and then midget car racing.

It evolved into its present form over the years and the Whizin name became familiar to travelers along Highway 101.

Today it spans 84,979 square feet at 28912 Roadside Drive and is home to the Canyon Club, a popular concert venue.

The sale, to Tucker Investment Group, was handled by Colliers International. The deal also included 2.73 acres on the north side of the freeway.

``The Whizin Center is located in the heart of ... an area that the City of Agoura Hills has marked for revitalization and beautification,'' said Michael Ross, managing director for Colliers Investment Services Group and partner of the Ross-Cordova Investment Team.

Fred Cordova and John DeGrinis and Steve Nanino of Colliers International also worked on the deal.

``We like Agoura. We think it's a great community and it just so happens that this center is at the doorstep of where they (the city) are creating a new downtown,'' said William P. Tucker, president of the investment group.

That's the Agoura Village Plan, a guide for future development, said city manager Greg Ramirez.

``I could see the Whizin Center fitting into that concept if that's what the council wishes,'' he said.

Proceeds from the sale will fund causes supported by the foundation that was formed after Art Whizin died in December 1994.

One of the foundation's main beneficiaries is the University of Judaism, which Art and his wife helped form in 1947.

Bruce Whizin also still remembers the work ethic that helped his father build a successful business.

Between 1930 and 1941, Art Whizin opened 21 Chili Bowl restaurants around Los Angeles, buying each lot for between $300 to $500. In the late 1940s he closed the business and began selling the lots.

He bought the Agoura property for about $100,000, Bruce Whizin recalled. Years later he sold three acres to the Do it Center for about half of that.

The family spent about $1.75 million on buildings over the years.

``The foundation made a good piece of change out of it and it will be put to good use supporting the University Judaism and the Israel Institute of Technology,'' Bruce Whizin said of the sale. (The foundation funds a center for biotechnolgy at the latter).

He's not the retiring type, though.

``I'm still going to be doing all the charitable stuff. And not running a shopping center will let me take two extra dive trips a year,'' Whizin said.

greg.wilcox(at)dailynews.com

(818) 713-3743
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 24, 2006
Words:735
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