Tower Records Building Still Empty


Isabella Abalos

The Tower Records building stands empty for over 11 years due to cancellations of projects affecting the Brea Downtown area. There are now future plans for a new hotel to take its place where the Tower Records Building stands.

Brea Downtown is the main attraction of the city, but there is one building that stands out among the array of shops and restaurants: Tower Records. This sizable property on Brea Boulevard has been vacant for over 11 years, apart from the annual Halloween Club costume shop that operates out of it, and the public has been left in the dark regarding its status.

The Tower Records building has been an anomaly since the chain filed for bankruptcy in 2006, but it has not been ignored. Tower Records was a chain of stores for fans of all types of media, but they dominated in the area of music. They flourished during the height of CD popularity, carrying the newest releases of the ’90s. Tower Records patrons used to rave about the positive, music-loving environment the store created.

Actor Tom Hanks’ son, Colin, was so fond of the chain that he spent seven years creating the documentary All Things Must Pass to celebrate it. Singer Elton John has also expressed his admiration for this chain, reminiscing about visiting weekly to find new music. However, by the mid-2000s, physical media started to become obsolete, and the franchise was unable to keep its doors open.

There have been several franchises interested in the property throughout the years. Walgreens was one of the first to make an offer on the location, according to the OC Register. It was set to lease one story of the building until the City Council voted against it on the grounds of it being out of place in the exciting Downtown atmosphere.

The Brea City Council also considered moving the Brea Branch Library to the Tower Records site, but the plan was never followed through with. Bill Gallardo, Brea City Manager, said that the library proposal was dismissed by the owner of the property. “When that idea surfaced of converting the Tower Building to a library, the owner of that building was not interested in selling the property, and that idea never materialized,” Gallardo said.

The next major proposal did not surface until 2018, when plans for a hotel were presented to the city staff by Mark Caplow, owner of the Tower Records property. According to David Crabtree, Brea Community Developer, “The city has received a submittal for the review of a new hotel for the site from Mr. Caplow. The concept would involve demolition of the existing building and new construction of a six-story Hampton Inn hotel. It’s an exciting idea, and city staff are awaiting the technical details and plan submittal to consider it further.” He added that hearings of the plan by the City Planning Commission and City Council will likely take place near mid-2020.

In the event that the plan goes smoothly, the Tower Records building will finally be open for business, and the Brea community’s decade-long wait for its occupation will be over.