Business & Real Estate

First Street's 'Fort Knox' up for sale

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The Los Altos Vault and Safe Deposit Co. is on the market for $4.5 million. Its fortified steel and concrete structure has been compared to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s gold depository.

A downtown Los Altos structure “built like Fort Knox” is up for sale – with an asking price of $4.5 million.

The Los Altos Vault and Safe Deposit Co. at 121 First St. hit the commercial real estate market March 18. On its website, the company compares the fortified steel and concrete structure to Fort Knox – the U.S. Federal Reserve’s super-secure gold depository in Kentucky. Online real estate listings suggest that the buyer could use the site for housing, a restaurant or a banking service project.


Vintage Bath changes hands as new owners add twist to classic offerings

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Vintage Bath, the downtown Los Altos showroom, is under new leadership. Taking over are, from left, co-owners Jerry Rudick and Deena Castello and marketing and visual director Alissa McDonald.

Deena Castello – the new curator and co-owner of downtown Los Altos’ Vintage Bath – summed up the recent change of ownership in one word: kismet.

Castello already runs two successful bath showrooms in Southern California. While visiting her hometown of Willow Glen, she stopped by Vintage Bath at 351 Main St. and struck up a conversation with the store’s former owner.


ClassPass offers new way to exercise

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Carla Hickman leads students in a Jazzercise class at the Los Altos Youth Center. Fitness buffs can use ClassPass to sample Hickman’s class and other local studios for $99 per month.

Two trends are converging in Los Altos this spring: boutique exercise studios and startups that offer a new way to pay – and pay less – for traditional services.

The New York-based startup ClassPass, which launched in the Bay Area late last year, partners with local studios to offer wide-ranging access for a discounted monthly fee – a buffet of boutiques. As of the Town Crier’s press deadline, Los Altos had three participating businesses – Momentum Cycling Studio, some of the Jazzercise classes at the Los Altos Youth Center, and The Dailey Method – and Mountain View another three: Yoga Belly, Serao Academy and Overtime Fitness. Palo Alto and Menlo Park are already dense with options, though even they pale in comparison to some neighborhoods of San Francisco, where studios charging $25 or more per hourlong class seem to be popping up two to a block.


Beepi driven to redefine used-car industry

Courtesy of Beepi
Beepi co-founders Alejandro Resnik, left, and Owen Savir oversee the used-car business that will soon move to a larger location in downtown Los Altos.

The business of used-car sales often results in a winner and a loser. One Los Altos-based company aims to take the gamesmanship out of the process.

Beepi – named for the cheerful “beep beep!” sound of a honking horn – heralds a new era of car buying with an online marketplace that connects buyers and sellers and tends to all the details along the way.


Los Altos scientist named Inventor of the Year

BIZ Inventor Showen in fmt
Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Robert Showen, above, the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Lawyers Association’s Inventor of the Year, began researching his ShotSpotter technology in his Los Altos home. Sensors are placed around a city, below, and four or more consistent timings cue SST Inc. to notify police of gunfire.

The award-winning work of Robert Showen began on a grand piano.

Technically, it was on top of his piano. That’s where the Los Altos resident first used his computer to study the acoustics of gunshots. From his research, Showen founded ShotSpotter Inc., a gunfire alert and analysis company.


SEC charges Los Altos resident with insider trading

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday charged a corporate insider from Los Altos, a stock research analyst and two others with insider trading. Together, they generated nearly $750,000 in illegal profits by trading in advance of four corporate news announcements, according to the SEC.


Longtime banker readies for retirement

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Joanne Kavalaris is retiring at the end of October after spending the past 25 years of her banking career in downtown Los Altos.

A longtime Los Altos banker is calling it a career in a few weeks.

Joanne Kavalaris, Bank of the West’s downtown Los Altos branch vice president and manager, is scheduled to retire at the end of October after a 43-year career that began with First Interstate Bank in San Francisco’s Financial District.


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