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A Ghost Building for 75 Years, Alexandria Annex Up for Sale

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, April 06, 2010, at 01:18PM
216 W. 5th Street Pamela Rouse [Flickr]

The upper floors of this seven-story annex to the Alexandria Hotel have been bricked off since the 1930s.

Empty above the ground floor for more than 75 years, the Alexandria Hotel's "ghost" annex on 5th street is a building that most Downtowners have probably never noticed.

The seven story structure at 216 W. 5th was built in 1906 as a 55-room addition to the hotel next door, but hasn't seen any customers since the Alexandria closed during the Great Depression in 1934.

The annex was built without any interior stairways, its hallways adjoining those of the hotel. For more than 70 years, though, those hallways have been sealed off with bricks on the Alexandria side.

Exactly why is the subject of numerous stories.

A 1980 L.A. Times story on the structure cited Lee Roddie, then owner of the building and the daughter of the man who built it, as saying that the falling out took place in 1937 due to a dispute over a retail tenant who left the Alexandria for lower rents next door.

At the time, the Community Redevelopment Agency was threatening to use condemnation proceedings to take the structure from Roddie and give it to Martin Yacoobian, who had just purchased the Alexandria.

Now the annex is up for sale, listed at $2.6 million through commercial real estate firm Major Properties.

Just what a new owner would do with it, though, is unclear. For any use not connected to the Alexandria, new stairways and elevators would need to be installed. That would be expensive, and it would also cut into the square footage of each of the narrow structure's seven floors.

So how is it that a building can sit almost empty for 75 years? Low property taxes and enough ground floor rent to make the structure an income property. While the building may be on the market for $2.6 million, its assessed value to the state is only $400,000. 2009 property taxes on the building were less than $9,000.

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