Developer Bill Tucker had his eyes on the Whizin’s Center for many years before he purchased it. “It’s a special site. The architecture is unique, not your standard strip mall, plus there’s a sense of history,” said the managing member of the Calabasas-based Tucker Investment Group.
However it was a drawn-out process from desire to acquisition, as the iconic landmark–originally owned and made famous by the businessman Art Whizin–was in a trust to be donated to the United Jewish Foundation (UJF). “When I approached the (then) manager Vance Moran (in 2002), he told me it wasn’t for sale, so I left it at that,” Tucker said.
It wasn’t until a mutual friend introduced Tucker to Bruce Whizin, the son of Art, a few years later that Tucker was able to make some inroads. Eventually, UJF decided to sell its interest and the complex was put up for auction. Twelve people bid on the project.
“I was much more aggressive, I guess,” Tucker said. “I had a passion for it, and I did my research.”
Tucker said he met with the Agoura Hills City Council as well as homeowner groups to discuss what they wanted for the eight-acre property. Ultimately, Tucker bought the Roadside Drive shopping center $26.2 million in December 2006.
Currently housing such landmark businesses as the Antique Mart, Hugo’s, Tifa Chocolate and Gelato and Blue Table, Tucker said his vision is for the renamed Whizin’s Market Square to be a focal point for Agoura Hills. “We want it to be a family center, a living room of the community,” said Tucker, who had always envisioned retaining the center’s historic charm yet updating it into the 21st center.
Tucker also owns properties in Burbank and Santa Monica and played a major role in the rejuvenation of the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, and said he prefers “pedestrian-friendly” environments much like those found in many European towns.
Currently in the midst of a three-stage re-model; stage one, the $3 million renovation 0f the atrium, now Market Hall, has been completed. Tucker said the second phase will renovate the buildings facing Roadside to face the the square, which Tifa currently does; and the third phase will remodel the square itself to make it more community-accessible.
In the meantime, other changes are already taking place. A Beautiful Mess has expanded its space into the former Very Vintage location; Soles by Warren, a shoe store, is moving in; Eat & Sleep Boutique is becoming Chandeliers & Tulips and Plata Taqueria and Cantina will be replacing The Latigo Kid this summer
Just this past weekend, Blue Table celebrated their expansion with a grand opening. “We felt there was something missing from our Agoura location though…wine and cheese and a bar. Situation remedied,” said co-owner Gina Marcione.
“I’m hoping this will become a family center,” Tucker said. “It’s got a special feeling, and the history can’t be replicated. You can’t build history.”