If anyone thought the chess pieces of Downtown Los Angeles would hold position now that everything is going great in the city core's wildly successful revival, news that the Ace Hotel building is up for sale for an eye-popping price is a reminder that land is L.A.'s currency.
Owners of the chain that operates the ultra-hip hotel, bars, rooftop pool and restaurants inside the historic building were quick to say that the $100 million “asking price” by their landlords would not disrupt the hotel in any way. Still, the math alone is staggering and as L.A. Business Journal reports, the Ace's survival is not guaranteed.
The rarely-mentioned landlords, Greenfield Partners in Chicago, bought the famed United Artists building for a song in 2011, just $11 million for the very building in which Hollywood Golden Age superstars Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith set up the UA movie production company of “united artists” who challenged the all-powerful studios.
Its staggeringly beautiful 1,600-seat theater, which opened in 1927 and is dripping in Old World glory, has become one of the hottest event venues in town. The Interview, the movie whose release Sony Pictures has cancelled after big movie house chains refused to show it in the face of mounting threats by alleged North Korean operatives, premiered at the renamed The Theater at Ace Hotel just days ago.
Brad Wilson, president of Atelier Ace & Ace Hotel Group, insisted to the Los Angeles Times that the hotel is not a pawn in DTLA's growing land speculation frenzy, saying:
“We are confident our above-market performance and the hotel's unique positioning will ensure the hotel remains an Ace.”
But Millennials can't relax just yet. The Ace—the virtual headquarters of the Los Angeles Millennials' nightlife subculture—could, in fact, get gobbled up by some other upscale chain catering to folks with more money than the millennials and under-30 crowd.
You've got to read the fine print in the sparkling sales brochure.
The brochure clearly touts the idea of either “leveraging” the Ace brand and keeping it in place or—alternatively, of course—buying the hotel “unencumbered by brand and management, subject to a termination fee” big enough to kick Ace out of town.
To think a forgotten gem of Hollywood's history, a white elephant that long housed the deeply dull offices of Texaco, and most recently was owned by Westcott Christian Center Inc., is about to inspire so much turmoil for DTLA.