First, the Fun Factory was to close by the end of the year. Then it wasn't.
But now, the long-time arcade, with its old-fashioned carnival games on the Redondo Beach Pier, looks set to close in January, shortly after the new year, Steve Shoemaker, the Fun Factory’s owner, said Monday, Sept. 23. In the meantime, he added, “everything must go.”
“Make me an offer,” Shoemaker said.
What changed his mind, he said, was an 11-page letter sent from an attorney on behalf of the city.
Shoemaker did not share the letter. But, he said, it essentially stated that he needed to vacate the Fun Factory in accordance with an agreement he signed in 2017. Two city officials, including City Attorney Mike Webb, did not respond to requests for comment.
Under that deal, Shoemaker agreed to cut short by seven years the lease to Fisherman’s Cove in exchange for $9 million. Shoemaker subleased portions of Fisherman’s Cove to two businesses: the separately owned Fun Fish Market and Restaurant — and his very own Fun Factory.
Last month, however, Shoemaker argued there was a loophole in the lease buy-back agreement that allowed him to collect the $9 million and keep the Fun Factory open. The argument, in essence, was that giving the city the master lease for Fisherman’s Cove did not impact the Fun Factory sublease. But after receiving the recent letter, Shoemaker announced over the weekend that he would soon collect his last quarters.
“I’ve had the best night sleep I’ve had for a long time,” he said after making the decision. I finally thought it through very carefully and considering how difficult the city has been trying to negotiate something, they would be an intolerable landlord.”
Shoemaker said he tried to renegotiate the terms of the Fun Factory sublease in June but received no response from city officials.
The lease buy-back agreement occurred as the city was finalizing a deal with CenterCal Properties to redevelop the waterfront. With the waterfront deal now tied up in court, Shoemaker argued, the reasons to vacate the Fun Factory space no longer existed and a new deal should be brokered.
Redondo Beach City Councilman Todd Loewenstein, whose District 2 encompasses the Fun Factory, said he couldn’t comment because of ongoing litigation involving CenterCal and the waterfront.
Shoemaker, for his part, said closing the Fun Factory will bring an end to an era that began nearly 50 years ago.
The Fun Factory opened in 1972 and was one of the few attractions on the pier. It was a constant carnival, and is still is today, with its collection of classic arcade games and rides, such as the Tilt-a-Whirl. Shoemaker said he plans one last weekend after the New Year and then the doors will close for good.
The last day to vacate the premises is Jan. 17.