NORTHRIDGE, Calif. — The pandemic has devastated businesses across L.A. County, the most recent being Skateland, the legendary Northridge roller-skating rink.

The owners say nearly eight million people have skated through the doors over the years. 

Brothers Dave and Mike Fleming's father, Richard Fleming, purchased Northridge Skateland in 1968. In 1978, Richard Fleming handed the business over to his sons, and ever since, the family-owned rink on Parthenia Street in Northridge has become renowned around the roller world.

What You Need To Know

  • Legendary actors like James Caan, Jerry Lewis, and Rebecca Romijn have skated at Skateland

  • Dozens of TV shows and movies have been filmed there

  • Skateland is ironing out a deal to sell the building to Hope of the Valley

  • Owners plan to convert the building into bridge housing for the unhoused in Northridge

Back in the glory days, the hardwood was a disco dance floor, and you'd likely bump into celebrities like actor Jerry Lewis, catching a break, or James Caan training for the original Roller Ball movie.

"[Caan] actually had quite a bit of skill, so it did not take that long [to train him]," Dave Fleming said.

By the late 2000s, dozens of movies and TV shows had been filmed in the Northridge rink.

The business glided through the good years and rolled through bad ones, but when the rink bounced back after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Dave Fleming truly believed nothing could down the business.

That is until July 2020.

Several months into the pandemic, there was no clear end in sight, and Dave Fleming said PPP loans and emergency savings weren't going to be enough to see them through.

"A mixture of anger, fear, sadness, and yet we thought [the pandemic shutdown] would only last a month or a couple of months," he said.

With a business pivot in transition, he promised to stay in line with their father's legacy of giving back to the community.

The Fleming brothers are considering selling the 62-year-old building to Hope of the Valley, a rescue mission helping the homeless. They plan on converting the property into a 100-bed temporary shelter for the unhoused community in Northridge.

The deal is not yet sealed between Hope of the Valley and Skateland.

The city council must approve the offer, the building must be appraised, and paperwork signed before the deal can officially move forward.

Hope of the Valley confirms if the shelter is approved, there'll be mental health services, drug and alcohol recovery programs, and life skill classes all on-site, in addition to housing.

"My brother and I still feel that desire and want to serve people in some way," Dave Fleming said. "So if it's not Skateland, we will certainly both seek ways to serve people."

It was a full-circle moment for Brian, who spends many weekends volunteering with Hope of the Valley.

But as a teenager, every single weekend, he worked and skated at Northridge Skateland.

While he's heartbroken, he won't be able to share a piece of his childhood with his twin toddlers, he trusts the building is landing in good hands.

"I pray and hope the organization and charity can do as much for the homeless that Skateland has done for the millions of people that have stepped foot on this floor," Brian said.

As Dave Fleming turns out the lights and locks up the doors for one of the last times, his family leaves behind no regrets.

Because even though Skateland is now fading into the distance, the memories made there will last a lifetime.