A classic arcade with old-fashioned carnival games that’s been a cherished institution on the Redondo Beach Pier since 1972 will not be closing in September and vacating the property by January as had been previously agreed to by the owner and the city, according to owner Steve Shoemaker.
The owner of the Fun Factory, who has had several disagreements with city officials over the years, removed a sign recently stating the arcade will be closing soon. In an interview this week he struck a defiant tone.
“I’m not leaving until the city makes me,” he said over the phone.
What the city plans to do exactly is not completely clear. City Attorney Mike Webb did not return a request for comment on the matter.
In 2017, in the midst of putting together a plan to renovate the pier and the entire Redondo Beach waterfront with CenterCal Properties, Shoemaker agreed to accept $9 million to cut short by seven years the lease to Fisherman’s Cove, the entity also controlled by Shoemaker that subleases to the Fun Factory and the Fun Fish Market and Restaurant, which is separately owned.
The lease buy-out, at a cost of $9 million, has frequently been used as a political lightning rod, decried as a poor decision by those who opposed the waterfront redevelopment deal.
“It was a good decision if CenterCal went ahead and became a bad decision when CenterCal didn’t,” Shoemaker said.
Rather than agreeing to forfeit the buy-out amount in exchange for staying put, Shoemaker said he still wants to collect the $9 million and he is willing to go to court to fight for it.
“The $9 million was not to remove the Fun Factory, but to regain control of the property which they have,” Shoemaker said. “The master lease says subleases do not end. They just become the property of the city. So the Fun Factory lease doesn’t end. They just get a new landlord… I know they say it’s having your cake and eating it too. Well, of course.”
The whole matter might end up in the court system anyway.
“At some point the city might say you have to leave,” Shoemaker said. “At that point we might file for declaratory relief and ask the court whether we have to leave or not.”
Among those who hope the Fun Factory remains is Rob Sells, who visited on Saturday with his wife and 3-year-old daughter. Sells said they came especially for the claw-grabbing games, which he said were hard to find anymore.
“It’s so old and has all the classic video games. There’s a great nostalgia to it,” Sells said.