Greedy landlords create a mass-extinction event in Burbank's indie paradise

Well, I think the way the system is supposed to work is that the shop owners will move to a new slum, which in turn will gentrify as coolseekers move in, and so forth ad infinitum, with the art of the shop owners serving to revitalize successive poorer districts in turn.

But of course that doesn’t really work so neatly in our messy real world, since there are other humans in the mix, too… some of whom are just disadvantaged people being shoved from one hellhole to another by the relatively high status shop owners, landowners, and coolseekers.


I saw this happen in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood; in the '60’s it was a hippie hangout, with underground clubs (slightly before my time), then in the seventies, the hippies opened niche boutiques; craft stores, import stores … I remember a weaving shop that took up two floors, where you could buy looms as well as handwoven items, or take classes. The boutiques became more upscale, but still interesting in the nineteen eighties, but st this point the giant condos are moving in, and all that’s left of the shopping district are the Chanel and Chanel type haute couture prete-a-porter shops along Bloor, west of Yonge.


Can confirm. Lived at Bloor and Ossington before moving back to Kitchener-Waterloo.


It’s been happening on Queen West for a number of years now; the funky little stores that attracted all the business have had to close because the landllords killed the golden goose by raising the rents. Some of those businesses are moving to the Danforth, east of Greektown, so that area (where I live) is undergoing a long overdue economic upturn … until those landlords raise the rents … lather, rinse, repeat.

And then there was the shooting in Greektown last night.


I don’t mean to point out the obvious here, let alone reiterate what previous cynics in this thread have already posted…but…

Isn’t a long overdue economic upturn East of Greektown a good thing?

I suspect the answer is often in the tax code. I know nothing about CA, so I won’t comment on the situation there in Burbank, but in Manhattan’s Village (East and West), Lower East Side, and North Brooklyn the issue is that landlords can write off the “lost income” from their fictitious inflated rent demands to offset the actual; income from paying tenants. So it’s actually advantageous for CBRE, Croman, Icon, etc. to have a storefront sit empty for 2-3 years or more with a requested rent of $15,000 a month. And then point to this as to why they are charging another tenant $12,000 for their renewal (“such a bargain given market rates”). This is also compounded by a lack of rent control or lease rights for commercial tenants.

On the other hand, in my second home of Wellington, NZ, they obviously do something right as small shops, restaurants, and cafes thrive for decades. I’ve yet to discover whether this is due to advantageous tax codes, less general assholery in the Wellington business community, local support for small businesses, legal commercial tenant protections - or a combination of all of these. And this is in the face of a historic office space shortage and rocketing house prices (although RIP Matterhorn, you are missed).


yes, because wanting to turn a profit of of your property by charging the going market rate is a terrible thing

how evil

kill the riches


Cuba St (and to a lesser extent Courtenay Place) is a success, but Lambton Quay is the kind of wasteland you’d expect from overpriced rents.

Edit: weirdly, Featherston St has been undergoing a retail renaissance over the last 5 years of so. Prior to that it was just the street that commuters struggled along, head down into the wind, on their way to the office or the railway station. Now it has life! On the weekend! (well, it would, if la Cloche and Bordeaux were open :unamused: )


An extra plus is that the building owner now gets to throw out those dirt bag hippies that took a chance signing a lease in a run down slumlord building and ended up revitalizing the neighborhood. #winning!


It’s absolutely a good thing! I’m just bemoaning the greed of short-viewed, greedy landlords and the eventual downturn, but I figure we’ve got about 20 good years ahead of us.


That’s true - but even on Lambton Quay, longevity of small newspaper shops, sushi places, etc. is much, much longer than their equivalents on a high street in the US, Canada, or UK.

I’d say that 80-90% of tenants that were on the Lambton Quay in 2004 are still there in 2018 whereas on the equivalent street in most other countries there would be 70% or more turnover - especially of the small non-chain stores.

NZ is doing something very well, but it frustrates me that I haven’t worked out what that recipe for small business success is.


oooh, I’d be a bit wary about that statistic. And once you go into the arcades it gets even grimmer. Trying to find a decent bookstore now is darkly amusing.

I’d say all the red and yellow stickering that’s been going on since 2011 might be helping with the rents. But I’m not keen on the chain stores creeping up Cuba … Barkers, Vodafone, Cotton On; I’m looking at you :unamused:


In recent years, I’ve watched a remarkable new source of pride rise in my neighborhood: the cool, clever, quirky corridor of Magnolia Park. Astonishingly, this citywide destination for what’s hip has been created, on a shoestring, almost entirely by the energetic, dedicated and resourceful merchants who populate its can’t-find-it-anywhere-else retail shops and eateries.

Now this stunning success is under brutal pressure from skyrocketing rents, limited parking, a whole bunch of other stuff I’m sure I don’t understand, and most of all — a surprising lack of knowledge among too many local power brokers and absentee landlords about what makes Mag Park extraordinary.

News outlets wail about the apocalypse of online shopping and the death of the corner store. But the merchants of Magnolia solved it, asking: “What’s cool enough to get people away from their computers to shop?” It’s a powerful answer: You offer them a modern village. You offer unique products they can’t find online. You offer experiences and relationships beyond mere items on shelves. You give them a seat at the cool kids’ table. You create events — like Ladies & Gents Night Out and the completely donation-funded Holiday in the Park — that draw shoppers from all over Los Angeles and bring Burbank neighbors out to meet neighbors. In short, you build a fiercely loyal community of people who feel a part of our “Magnolia Miracle.”

No Realtor sells an increasingly valuable Burbank home to a highly paid jobholder and their family without emphasizing our city’s small-town feel. But it’s not the skyscrapers or the airport or the studios that create that — it’s Magnolia Park.

Folks, this crisis is real. Shops beloved by the Burbank and L.A. faithful have begun to close: Creature Features, Geeky Teas, the globally successful PinUp Girl Clothing. And more businesses are on the bubble. Don’t let the miracle die. Shop Magnolia Park, get to know Magnolia Park, and


In NYC, landlords of rent-controlled apartments try to empty out their own buildings by letting the places go to pot (no repairs, no pest-control, you name it).


By all means, the rights of a faceless investment firm should trump those of people who have worked to build thriving businesses over the past 25 years, bringing vitality to their communities. You know, I won’t complain when the investment class takes over bitcoin and other virtual communities, but when all the bookstores, record stores and artist run cafés in my neighborhood get pushed out for dollar stores, chain coffee and empty investment shells, I think I have a right to say that something is wrong with that setup.

On the other hand, a landlord told me that the city rates taxes (based on property value), not on the rents he gets paid, but on the rates they think he should be getting. If he can’t raise rents, his profit margins can dip below zero.


Ah…a perfect example of Fascism at its finest!
Landlords own it, but the government controls it

Will people be calling for the same ‘zoning laws’ when they want to sell their house, or will free market forces suddenly be OK?


Well, the landlords own it because somebody took control of it by brute force, you do realize that, right? Apollo didn’t descend on a shining cloud and hand some settler a deed.


The problem in cases like this is that the landlords are charging way more than the going market rate, to the point that the storefronts will likely stay empty for two or more years because no-one (including banks, coffee shops, and branded apparel chains) is willing to pay the kind of rents being demanded. Eventually, a luxury boutique chain or high-end restaurant may move in but a street of empty storefronts doesn’t hold a lot of appeal.

As @Raoul notes, the landlords may also be gaming the tax system, but for anyone who actually cares about a healthy capitalist system (including “riches”) the phenomenon of storefronts kept deliberately empty to claim tax deductions until a sucker comes along (behaviour L.A. landlords exhibit at an unusually high rate) is not a good thing.

It’s a particular shame in this case. I’ve been on that retail stretch before precisely because the mix of shops made it a destination not only for the locals but for tourists. The kinds of businesses that might pay rents to greedpig landlords 2-3 years from now are not the kinds of businesses people outside the neighbourhood (and, given the destroyed goodwill, locals) will go out of their way to patronise.


“a big reason my family and I moved to town three years ago: a walkable, shady, tree-lined street whose merchants are a quirky (and legendary) mix”


“So naturally, greedy asshole landlords have started doubling and tripling the rents.”

Could these two things possibly be connected in any way? I mean not you personally, but people like you, moving into the community? You know, those people.


Yes I know this - it’s happened and still happening in London.

Which I know you know about, Cory cos you used to live here, and rather than fight it and help us, you just left. Like a lot of people…more understandable now cf. Brexit, but it’s been a lot of braindrain to Berlin and other places…bye artists! I won’t forget your lack of fight when you come back after it all fails and is closed down and slums, and you suddenly want to ‘vanguard’ the next upturn. Uhuh.

The sad thing is the artists, the promoters, the queers (I am several of those), the hipsters, the media types never really face up to the complicity they are in making these areas ‘hip’. At the moment it’s Tooting…nice to see it side by side with locals, but I hope like Brixton they fight a complete takeover. People have to live somewhere and that local flavour doesn’t come from beard oil or retro record stores, it comes from the WHOLE community. The immigrant communities and lower-paid people who actually make an area what it is, rather it being swept away for expensive comic shops and such trinket nerdery.

So Cory - are you going to fight this gentrification this time? Or just move again?