Commercial real estate broker Scott Rosenberg crafts savvy deals to drive value for his clients and the community.
- Photographed byShane O’Donnell
Creativity runs deep for Scott Rosenberg. Growing up, he enjoyed drawing, painting and playing music in a band when he was not working on his family farm in the Santa Ynez Valley. “I discovered early on that I enjoyed the creative process,” Scott says.
After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a bachelor’s degree in fine art and a master’s degree in education, Scott tried his hand in the family business: teaching.
But it was real estate that captured his imagination as a young adult. His art and education background set Scott’s business process apart from his peers in the commercial real estate world. “I have found it’s quite rare to work in the commercial real estate world with my background,” he says. “But as a result, I have a knack for closing difficult deals.”
Scott’s creative approach and his willingness to play educator and problem-solver have contributed to his award-winning success over the last 20 years of selling investment properties on the Westside of Los Angeles. Today, he is inviting these clients to his home turf in the South Bay to add value to his expanding local business.
One such example was the recent sale of 22 Malaga Cove Plaza in Palos Verdes Estates. The roughly 6,500-square-foot retail property had been vacant for nearly a year and had been sitting on the market for months. “I discovered the property was for sale while walking our dogs, Kona and Kiki, through Malaga Cove with my wife, Jennifer, and our three kids: Adam, Chloe and Poppy,” Scott recalls. “We live right near the plaza, and I realized that bringing a motivated, dynamic operator to our community was an opportunity I really wanted to pursue.”
To do this, he needed to bridge his business relationships from West Los Angeles to Palos Verdes. “In the last five or so years, L.A. capital has begun to find its way down to the South Bay and the Peninsula, so I knew—with the right approach—I could do the same for this very special commercial building.”
He presented the opportunity to a dear client, Michael Sarlo, whom Scott describes as “a creative and entrepreneurial real estate investor with the tenacity and gumption to help business operators manifest positive change.” It was a perfect match.
“Frankly, I knew the right buyer immediately. Michael is one of the best operators of commercial properties in the marina and is willing to invest in his properties
to find great tenants,” Scott shares. “And he loves Italian marble sculptures! With the plaza’s iconic Neptune fountain, Renaissance-style architecture and the relative value this property offers compared to West L.A. prices, I knew an escrow was eminent!”
However, it was a challenge negotiating a transaction with the bank while keeping the buyer engaged for nearly six months before landing a contract. “The bank requires a gargantuan 10% nonrefundable reposit and offers virtually no time to conduct due diligence,” he says. “To boot, they take weeks or months to turn around documents and correspondences.”
In addition, while in escrow Scott and Michael uncovered a potentially serious issue related to the local geology. “It turns out there is an underground river beneath the plaza, moving groundwater off the mountain to the ocean,” Scott explains. “And all this water can present an issue if not addressed.”
Working with other local owners, engineering consultants and the city of Palos Verdes Estates, Scott organized efforts to make the needed repairs to the infrastructure in a matter of weeks, thus safely removing any risk associated with the property. “It was a wonderful experience getting involved in my community to help make a positive change, and it has invigorated my business,” he says.
He credits “the story of change” for holding the deal together. “Michael saw the vision I painted for him and this plaza,” says Scott, who points out that the number of families moving into Palos Verdes has increased dramatically since the pandemic. This has significantly changed the potential for new businesses, services and restaurants to satisfy the wants and needs of the community.
“Given the very tight supply of spaces,” he says, “with the right vision and some faith, the property could represent a turning point for reinvigorating the retail element of the plaza.”
This change is evidenced by the dramatic uptick in daytime and weekend traffic to the plaza. “On weekends, there are families, puppies, children, running club members stretching on the grass, hundreds of cyclists passing through, meeting at the fountain or taking a break,” says Scott.
Michael agrees: “This is one of the most beautiful business plazas in California, and a once-in- a-generation opportunity to establish a presence in this historic, iconic South Bay center.”
Scott says the demand is boiling over for neighborhood restaurants, bars, yoga studios, salons and retail. “Families are seeking natural beauty, amazing schools and meaningful yards, and this has increased residential property values.” He points out that only a limited number of businesses will get to be in this location—and time is of the essence.
A Call to Action
22 Malaga Cove Plaza is undergoing renovations and is available for lease now. The 4,500-square-foot ground level is subdividable, and 2,000 square feet of office and storage space is available on the second level with access to ocean views from the balcony. Tours of the site are by appointment through Scott, but anyone who hasn’t visited the plaza lately is invited to stop by and rediscover this truly magical corner of the South Bay.
“I love this project,” says Scott. “The property represents a fantastic opportunity for my community and is a great representation of why I love what I do.”