KB Home pays $24M for historic Starlite Drive-In in South El Monte

13.5-acre site has approvals for more than 200 homes

KB Home's Jeffrey Mezger and the Starlite Drive-In sign and upcoming development at 2560 Rosemead Boulevard, South El Monte
KB Home's Jeffrey Mezger and the Starlite Drive-In sign and upcoming development at 2560 Rosemead Boulevard, South El Monte (Google Maps, Mezger via UnMktg, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

KB Home has paid $24 million for the site of a former drive-in theater in South El Monte, long after it won approval to build more than 200 homes.

The Westwood-based developer has closed on its purchase of the 13.5-acre Starlite Drive-In at 2560 Rosemead Boulevard, Urbanize Los Angeles reported. The seller was Starlite Swap Meet Group, based in Taiwan.

KB Home announced early last year it planned to convert the historic drive-in property in the San Gabriel Valley into 207 homes. The 1950s drive-in closed in 1997; the swap meet shut down in 2020.

Plans call for 169 single-family houses and 38 multifamily units in three-story attached and detached Spanish Colonial Revival- and Craftsman-style buildings.

The development, linked by private roads and pedestrian walkways, will include 9,000 square feet of recreation space, including a community building and swimming pool.

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KB Home will restore the Starlite’s 30-foot, Streamline Moderne/Googie marquee, whose twinkling stars will once again light up the sky at dusk.

When the Starlite Drive-In opened in 1950, it was lauded as one of the largest drive-ins on the West Coast, according to an environmental study. Its illuminated sign was praised as a fine example of an “attraction panel” to draw in carloads of passersby.

KB Home, founded in 1957, has a long history of development in Los Angeles.

Its co-founder Eli Broad would become one of the city’s most influential and prolific philanthropists. He died in 2021 at 87. He amassed a nearly $7 billion fortune and gave away an estimated $2 billion to support the arts, medical research and education.

— Dana Bartholomew

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