The director of The Jungle Book is moving into an aquarium.
Jon Favreau recently closed on a deal to buy Allan’s Aquarium, which is moving to a new location after opening its doors on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice nearly half a century ago. Since its opening in 1967, Allan’s, with its bright aqua blue and orange trim exterior, has become an unofficial Westside landmark and pet emporium servicing animal lovers in need of dog treats, gerbils, slithering reptiles and all walks of squawking birds and exotic fish.
But it’s about to receive a serious Hollywood makeover.
Favreau purchased the 4,700-square-foot store and an adjacent residential home at the corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Brooks Avenue for $5.25 million, according to several sources. The actor-filmmaker has plans to move his production company, which is currently located on nearby Abbot Kinney Boulevard, into the retail space several blocks east on Lincoln. The commercial lot is 5,554 square feet and is separated from the 5,879-square-foot residential lot by an alleyway.
Stephen Lampe, executive vp of RE/MAX Commercial and Investment Realty and the listing broker on the deal, declined to comment on the buyer, but did say there was ample interest in the property. “The seller wanted to work with someone who was going to preserve the structure rather than destroy it and build some large development, so it was a win-win for the neighborhood,” he said.
With his new space, Favreau has now planted a permanent flag in Venice, which has welcomed a host of high-profile production companies over the past decade, including Robert Downey Jr.’s Team Downey, Chris Weitz’s Depth of Field, Todd Garner’s Broken Road Productions and Joel Silver’s planned — yet now stalled — move into Venice’s historic post offices near Windward Circle.
Emails to Favreau’s representatives seeking comment were not returned as of Friday evening.
The deal also is further proof of an ongoing axis shift in the rapidly gentrifying beachside community. With a sale price of $5.25 million, the price per square foot of the deal pencils out to about $1,000, which now puts portions of the Lincoln corridor in league with Abbot Kinney, where rents go for anywhere between $1,200 to $1,500 per square foot.
The artisanal shops sprouting up just south of California Avenue on Lincoln are further evidence. Amidst the used car lots, liquor stores and old-school hoagie shops, lines of well-groomed Venetians form outside the upscale restaurant Superba just across the street from a cluster of boutiques like Flynn Skye, Tradesman and the General Store.
As for Allan’s Aquarium, it will be moving to a new location at the corner of Pico Boulevard and Bundy Drive, and according to a store clerk, the new store should be open within several weeks. But they will be without the store’s namesake.
“They are moving,” said Allan Saurin, the store’s founder, as he gestured towards his employees. “I’m retiring. I’m 77 years old. It’s time.”
Photo: Interior of Allan’s Aquarium, courtesy of Peter Kiefer