LINCOLN BLVD — Want steak and eggs at some disgusting hour of the morning? Get it while you can.
Norm’s Restaurant, a diner at the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Colorado Avenue, has been put up for sale according to a representative of a Downtown Los Angeles real estate firm.
It joins the Denny’s across the street, sold by the same firm to apartment developer NMS Properties.
NMS Properties closed escrow on the Denny’s property last week, said Patrick Wade, senior associate with Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services.
The Wertz Brothers Antique Mart adjacent to the Norm’s is also on the market. The two properties together would create a 1.5-acre plot, arguably the largest site for potential development available in Santa Monica, Wade said.
Greasy spoon deprivation is not imminent: Even after it’s sold, Norm’s will continue to operate by leasing the restaurant back while the buyer seeks the appropriate permits for whatever takes the restaurant’s place.
“If business is good and the restaurant is profitable, it doesn’t make sense to close as soon as the property is sold,” Wade said. “It’s a win-win for potential developer and the tenant-seller to continue operating until they’re ready to break ground.”
Both the Norm’s and the Denny’s were profitable businesses when the land was put up for sale.
The Denny’s will become a mixed-use apartment complex with small units meant to take advantage of the central location and proximity to the incoming Exposition Light Rail Line, which will wind its way down Colorado Avenue by 2015.
It’s not clear what’s slated for the Norm’s site, but developers have taken to heart goals set out in the Santa Monica general plan’s Land Use and Circulation Element, or LUCE, that encourage high density housing in Downtown, Wade said.
“I think the restaurants are doing very well,” Wade said. “This is the reflection of demand for land, housing and office space in Santa Monica with the new LUCE. It allows for higher density development at those sites.”
NMS President Jim Andersen confirmed that his company was aware of the Norm’s listing, but had no news beyond that.
It’s not just the LUCE driving demand for housing developments.
As markets across the state slowly begin to rebound from the real estate-created recession, apartment-type properties and hotel properties begin to look attractive, said George Monte, a Realtor out of Arcadia, Calif.
“The reason for that is the ability to quickly adjust rents on apartment properties,” Monte said. “It’s an inflation hedge.”
The same holds true for hotels, many of which are available through foreclosure, because room rates can go up as people regain the ability to pay.
It never hurts to be near the water, or to put a development in a walkable city with access to public transportation as oil prices begin to rise, Monte said.
“A project closer to the central district in the Downtown will, in the long term, hold up much better than something out in the boondocks,” Monte said.