Peeling away the present reveals the past of the Boyle Heights Sears store

Passersbys have begun to notice the first visible signs of a massive overhaul planned for the landmark Sears building at Olympic Boulevard and Soto Street. Workers have torn down a facade that was added in recent decades on the Olympic side of the building, revealing some of the older – albeit dusty- Art Deco details of the 1920s building.

Los Angeles developer Izek Shomof plans to convert a portion of the massive building into more than 1,000 residential units and 250,000-square-feet of office space. The store will continue to operate on the ground floor, and Shomof’s group has pledged to preserve the building’s historic features and not endanger its city and national historic landmark status.

“The development team is restoring the historic facade as part of their project,” said Ken Bernstein, Manager of the city’s Office of Historic Resources. The developer’s plans are being reviewed by a preservation architect with the city. In addition, the developer is with working with a preservation consultant on the plans and the ongoing monitoring of the work, he said.

While the project will restore the building’s historic features, it has also touched off concerns about the gentrification of Boyle Heights as well as bringing additional traffic in the area.

The the mail-order warehouse and store was completed at the end of 1927 after crews worked around the clock to finish the project in only six months, according to Wikipedia.

Photos by Jesse Saucedo
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