Chris Lampe, manager of Los Altos Vault & Safe Deposit Co., said he never really gave up hope when it came to the Vault staying in business. His hope became a reality April 13 when owner Betine Lee signed the deal they had been looking for – a two-year lease extension with property owner Los Altos Community Investments.
Earlier this year, Lee announced that the private vault, located at 121 First St., would close its doors June 1 if LACI principal Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe, didn’t offer her more than a six-month lease.
But according to Lampe, two days after the Town Crier published an article in March reporting the potential closing of the Vault, LACI offered Lee an 18-month lease. The final deal included a two-year lease, with the Vault given the option to renew for an additional two years.
“I want to give a lot of credit to Robert Hindman,” Lampe said. “He was the head negotiator for (LACI), and he negotiated in good faith and in a professional manner the whole time. I think they made some changes in plans, too, which allowed us to be able to get the two-year lease.”
The change in plans Lampe referred to largely involved the uncertainty of the First Street Green, the proposed 77,000-square-foot office building and park project LACI canceled last October. The project was set to be located on seven LACI-owned parcels of land along First Street, which included the Vault.
Business as usual
Now that the Vault has locked up two more years in downtown Los Altos, Lampe said they’ve started to quell the panic of clients unsure of where to store their valuables.
“We had people who were going to move their possessions to Dallas and to Seattle and to Beverly Hills, and so now they’re all staying here and they’re happy as can be,” assistant manager Phil Van Poetsch said.
A happy clientele is a welcome change from the five to 10 phone calls per day Lampe said they had been receiving over the past few months from customers who were playing the waiting game with regard to the Vault’s future.
Lampe surprised his favorite client – the first he sold a safe-deposit box to – with the good news. The client lives halfway around the world in New Zealand and couldn’t return to Los Altos to access the contents of his box before June 1, the Vault’s previously announced closing date.
“(He asked if) he could possibly put his mother on his account so she could empty it when we closed,” Lampe said. “He called on Monday and I said, ‘You don’t have to put your mother on the account – we’re staying.’ And he said, ‘God bless you.’”
It’s business as usual at the Vault now that it isn’t closing. Lampe said they’ve sold 14 new boxes in the past month, compared with the 20 they lost when people learned they might be going out of business.
“Believe it or not, I never really thought we were going to close,” Lampe said. “This is too beautiful of a building, and we’re such a unique business. I never really gave up hope. A lot of others did, but I didn’t.”
For more information, visit losaltosvault.com.