El Cajon Boulevard in San Diego currently is signed as a business loop for Interstate 8. Prior to that, it was the principal thoroughfare from San Diego to El Cajon and points farther east as U.S. Highway 80. In the ’50s and ’60s it was known locally simply as
“The Boulevard” and was the cruising strip where high school and college students went to see and be seen.
I drive El Cajon Boulevard quite often, but since it’s a heavily used, I’m usually watching traffic instead of looking at sights. In early January when I decided to take a driving tour of what remains of U.S. Highway 80, now called “Old Highway 80” or “Historic Route 80,” my tour started at the corner of Park Boulevard and El Cajon Boulevard. My goal was to see sights, traffic be darned.
One of the earliest stops on the tour was 3727 El Cajon Boulevard, a 5-story building with a huge mural on the corner:
Other than the mural showing old cars on El Cajon Boulevard and a California US 80 sign, I have not been able to find out anything else about it. The building, however, is the historic Bekin Building. It originally was constructed as a storage facility for Bekins Van Lines, founded in 1891 in Indianapolis, Indiana, and used by Bekins for several decades.
Currently it hosts a variety of light manufacturers, office dwellers, artists, and creative craftsman. Tenants include The Boulevard Business Improvement Association, a cabinet shop, several upholsterers, a mid century modern furniture reseller, an industrial lighting designer, and several Etsy & Ebay professionals.
According to public records, the building has 31,500 square feet and was built in 1941. The property is zoned warehouse industrial. Interestingly, the current owner is R&C Bekins LLC. R&C Bekins does not appear to be related to Bekins Van Lines, and the company was founded just a couple of weeks before buying the building. I’m thinking that the owner of R&C Bekins, Amy Campagna, had a soft spot for Bekins and this building and decided to buy it. Maybe she worked there for many years.
According to sources, her intent is to provide an affordable and unique environment with a flexible range of spaces to house small businesses and creative persons. With property taxes on this building being in the $30,000 range annually, I can’t believe that she makes enough money from rents to pay both the taxes and the mortgage on the building, so all I have to say is, “Thank you, Amy. You’re great!”
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