Coast Sotheby's closes unexpectedly

Visitors Bureau will be allowed to keep its information center there for a while. Officials say they still don't know why it closed.

July 19, 2012|By Barbara Diamond

CoastSotheby'sInternational closed its doors suddenly in June.

No explanation for the closure was offered to the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau, which shared the ground floor of the building in the Landmark Plaza at 361 Forest Ave. with the real estate office.

"We still haven't heard why it closed," said Karyn Philippsen, bureau president. "We are very fortunate that the building management has worked with us to maintain the location of our information center for now."


CoastSotheby'sowner and broker, Bob Chapman, an established local Realtor and longtime Laguna resident, could not be reached for comment as of Thursday.

Visitors Bureau officials only learned of the closure a few days before the real estate agents were gone from the premises and the furniture was removed, Philippsen said.

"It was very important for us to be here at least during the summer because of the number of people we see — 2,500 to 3,000 in July and August," said Judy Bijlani, the bureau's executive director.

The bureau's information center was moved from its original site on Broadway Street into Coast Sotheby's in 2008, at the invitation of Chapman, Philippsen said. Bureau offices were moved into the second level of the building in 2009 and are not affected by the closure.

HOM Sotheby's International Chairman Mike Shapiro opined that the economy played a role in the closure.

"Bob opened at the wrong time," Shapiro said. "We had the size to weather the negative aspects of the economy."

Nor did it help that Coast Sotheby's was not included in the merger of Sotheby's with HOM last year and operated independently, which limited its operation, according to Shapiro.

"It was no longer part of Sotheby's," Shapiro said.

HOM Sotheby's is the exclusive affiliate for Orange County, he said.

"We offered to hire all of Coast Sotheby's agents and were prepared to keep the office if we could reach an agreement with the property owner," Shapiro said.

Landmark Plaza's owner is asking for $23,000 a month for the 3,000-square-foot space, according to Shapiro, who instead opted to open a second office in the Montage Resort & Spa. The company already has one office at Three Arch Bay.

Shapiro also offered to assist the Visitors Bureau to find new digs, if his help is wanted.

"We are exploring all options for future opportunities," Philippsen said.

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