Just before Christmas, Michael Rosenfeld, the developer who bought the property last May for about $366.5 million revealed his plans for razing the 19 story arc-shaped hotel (far left) and erecting in it's place two 50 story towers that will cost approximately $2 billion.
For decades, the 726 room Century Hotel, designed by Minoru Yamasaki has been an integral part of American History and Culture playing host to numerous United States presidents, the successful astronauts from the Apollo 11 in 1969 and has been the location for musical events emceed by Bob Hope and singers like Andy Williams (my mother's favorite). But of cause, as a developer, Rosenfeld does not care about cultural or historical symbolism embodied in the Hotel but is seeking nothing but monetary gain.
At 600 feet, the new towers will be the tallest within the region with 300 condominiums, 100,000 square feet of office space, 106,000 square feet of retail and a 240 room luxury hotel. You would ask why Rosenfeld is seeking to undertake such a project (more high-end condominiums?) in the current economic recession where very few people are buying or indeed can afford to buy homes but his pitch to Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was that by the completion date, set for 2015, there would be a significant economic turn-around making the project "a great opportunity to plan for the future." Mayor Villaraigossa has gone to lengths to push for the projects approval and has called it a great plan to "transform an aging hotel into an iconic destination."
I can't see what the mayor is getting all excited about. It seems that he has failed to realize that Resenfeld's financial partner in acquiring the hotel and backing the new project, D.E. Shaw Group
is among the large Wall Street hedge funds caught up in the $50 billion scandal by Bernard Madoff. Indeed, they have stopped redemption of some of their funds though Rosenfeld maintains that the firm's real estate funds were not affected.
All in all, I hope this project stalls and falls by the way side becauseI think it is important that we keep and conserve those buildings that have become part of the history of a City and Nation as a whole, protecting them from developers like Michael Rosenfeld who seek to debase the site by dynamiting a building like the Century Plaza Hotel and erecting two sterile columns with no cultural relevance or significance to Los Angeles.
For more information, check www.latimes.com/business
Images obtained from The LATIMES.COM