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Photos: Downtown's Notorious Hotel Cecil Granted Landmark Status
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, City Council named the notorious Hotel Cecil a historic-cultural monument. The bid to gain monument status was submitted back in October by Simon Baron Development, the group behind the planned renovations for the hotel. They have plans to develop it into a boutique hotel similar to The Ace or the future Proper Hotel. The historic-cultural monument status will add prestige to their project as well as offer the potential to subsidize the restoration of the building.
According to KPCC, these subsidies could come from a financial incentive program known as the Mills Act. The Act gives developers of a historic-cultural monument the opportunity to enter ten-year contract with the city that lowers property taxes and provides other financial assistance to embark on restoration of its historic components.
There’s no guarantee the developers would get approval for the Mills Act, and the Mills Act also won’t singlehandedly cover the cost of restoring the building. By focusing on property taxes, it aims to put all the financial savings back into the cost of restoring the building (rather than as a way for the developer to profit off the project). The developers plan on gutting most of the interior of the hotel, though, so the restoration will more so be a redevelopment. They don't plan on altering the exterior, but in their eyes, "[they]'re building a brand new building."
According to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards of Rehabilitation, restoration means
"the process of returning a property to a state of utility, through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural, and cultural values."
While interior gutting seems at odds with historic preservation, the Hotel comes with a very dark history of suicides and serial killers. Removing the interior wipes the Hotel it of its murderous past while maintaining the skeleton of the structure itself. The application for preservation status cites its role in L.A.'s early downtown boom and the development of the entertainment industry, with no mention of "The Night Stalker"'s residency there during the 1980s, so maintaining the rooms where people died appears very low on the priority list. As hard as they may try to expunge the Hotel Cecil's dark history and focus solely on its brighter contributions to L.A., the hotel will never live down its past. After all, American Horror Story: Hotel was based off the building. This is also Los Angeles, where our obsession with death lives alongside our obsession with perpetual youth. No amount of trendy hotel bathrooms stocked with Aesop soaps can empty our dark memories.