Long-vacant hotel gets a new life

Owners of Kerns Jewelers purchased and will develop Lorton Avenue property

BURLINGAME — After 38 years as renters, the owners of downtown staple Kerns Jewelers were finally able to buy their own home in a long-empty hotel now set to be converted to office and retail.

Kerns owner Greg Mendell, who also represents Mendell Partners, plans on setting up shop in his new digs in a year, pending a Planning Commission approval of his application to renovate the two-story building at 214-216 Lorton Ave.

The renovation is expected to give the longtime jewelry store a new spot of its own while also providing the city with a tax-generating tenant.

The vacant property has seen a few twists and turns over the last few years. Lorton Avenue LLC purchased the building in January 2004, according to Terry Flinn, the deputy county assessor. Later that year, the Planning Commission approved the building’s renovation and ground-floor retail conversion — but the project never got off the ground, even after the commission granted a one-year extension on the building permit in October 2005.

Progress was stalled further after a fire in July 2005 significantly damaged the property.

Mendell purchased the former two-story hotel early this year, hoping to make more progress at renovating the building into ground-floor retail and second-floor office space. Commissioners last month said that it would make a “very classy” addition to Lorton Avenue, one of the main inroads into Burlingame Avenue.

All 27 rooms will be eliminated from the building, which spans roughly 13,000 square feet, planner Ruben Hurin said.

Kerns will take over the downstairs retail space, which is approximately twice as large as the jeweler’s current spot on Park Road, Mendell said.

Office tenants have not been chosen yet, Hurin said, but the space allows for one or several businesses to set up shop.

tramroop@examiner.com

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