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Unsure Future For Mariachis In Boyle Hotel Renovation

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The 122-year-old Boyle Hotel on the eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles has been a mariachi mecca for decades, but the process of remodeling and renovating the "slum-like" conditions of the property into 51 studios and apartments for musicians and families (plus two meeting rooms, a mariachi center with a break area, and a rehearsal space) has caused the community of mariachis to scatter, reports the L.A. Times.

Some musicians had occupied the Boyle Hotel for decades, while others "were like migrating birds," traveling seasonally from Mexico to play weddings, quinceañeras and parties. The property was shuttered months ago and is expected to be finished in the summer of 2012. Says the L.A. Times, "the trick will be getting the musicians back in." Despite improvements and getting the building up to code (goodbye rodents, cobwebs, foul communal bathrooms) the rent increase is a serious concern in the community.

Many units will still rent for $450, but some will cost as much as $600. Additionally, there will be a stricter application and leasing process, and occupancy rules allowing only two tenants per studio, not three or four as before, will be enforced. The nonprofit handling the project, The East Los Angeles Community Corp., bought the historic building for $3.1 million in 2007 to "protect tenants from being pushed out by the kind of gentrification then being seen in downtown" notes the L.A. Times.