Is Amoeba Music, Hollywood's megalithic music mecca, going the way of Tower Records?
On Monday afternoon, it seemed to appear so. The local news site LAist reported that they'd discovered a rendering of a 20-story mixed-use tower in the lot currently occupied by Amoeba. The illustration had been posted on the website of architectural illustration firm Shimahara. Later, Hollywood councilman Mitch O'Farrell's office confirmed that the building had been sold to a new owner.
But the music retailer says it isn't going anywhere, at least for a couple of years. On Monday evening, the chain, which also has stores in Berkeley and San Francisco, assured record-buying Angelenos via social media that it isn't planning to leave its building anytime soon.
"We're going to remain in our building for the duration of our lease — which is several years — and Amoeba and the building owner are open to us potentially staying longer," the statement read.
You may have read an article today about us... pic.twitter.com/18l9zRPGMn— Amoeba Music (@amoebamusic) September 13, 2016
Amoeba's owners did, in fact, sell the building about a year ago, for a reported $34 million. The company that owns Amoeba's building now, GPI, told the L.A. Times it's possible there will be a new development at the space — just not for a little while. “We intend to make an application to redevelop the property," said GPI's Cliff Goldstein. "At the same time, we're talking to Amoeba and have a great relationship with them. We're talking to them about a longer-term commitment to remain. We're open to those discussions, and we're having those preliminary discussions with them.”
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Amoeba co-owner Jim Henderson, reached by phone, said the store plans to stay for the remainder of its lease — though the store won't comment on the length of that lease — and that Amoeba is not currently searching for a new space. "The likeliest scenario is when and if we have to move somewhere in the future, we’ll make an announcement," Henderson said.
Amoeba opened at 6400 Sunset Blvd. in 2001 (its first location, in Berkeley, opened in 1990). As the era of Tower Records waned, Amoeba became Hollywood's go-to record store, a massive storehouse of CDs, vinyl and other merch, and a destination for the entire spectrum of music lovers, from casual listeners to DJs to collectors. According to Henderson, the 50,000-square-foot store stocks more than 500,000 releases at any given time.
The store also functions as a beacon for local music and culture, hosting in-store performances, DJ sets and even music-centric art exhibits.
As this story made its way around the internet and beyond Southern California on Tuesday, it lost a bit of nuance ("L.A.'s Amoeba Music Sold, to Become Luxury Skyscraper," blared music magazine The Fader). But the now-undefined future of Amoeba as a Hollywood institution is enough to make a music lover a bit queasy. The loss of Amoeba, a living symbol of music retail's stubborn survival, and a hub of local music culture, would ripple far beyond the block it occupies between Cahuenga and Ivar.