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Broadway to get an Ace

By Tony Pierce
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 09:16AM
IMGP0758 Ed Fuentes

The Spanish Gothic United Artists Theatre (1927) was opened by the founders of United Artists; Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford.

The classic Downtown theater on Broadway & 9th Street originally built by Hollywood icons and for decades known as the "Jesus Saves" building will now be transformed into LA's first Ace Hotel.

The United Artists building was opened the day after Christmas in 1927 with the Mary Pickford film "My Best Girl". Now more than 80 years later the property hopes to soon be the best choice for trendsetters and hipsters who currently lodge (and party) at The Standard.

The upstart chain that has hotels in Palm Springs, Portland, NYC, and Seattle will operate the property for Conn. hotel investor Greenfield Partners. Greenfield plans on renovating the office building into 180 hotel rooms, and it will remodel the historic theatre into a 1,600-seat entertainment venue.

The current Ace hotels are pet-friendly with free-wifi and eco-friendly interior design.

"Ace has a penchant for organic, authentic, unique design. Although we have been called a boutique hotel and a hip hotel, we're not sure what that really means," Ace quips on its website.

Originally designed by C. Howard Crane and built by UA stalwarts Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, and Pickford as a home for movie premieres; flamboyant televangelist Dr. Gene Scott's University Cathedral bought the landmark in 1986 for $23 million after the original developer defaulted.

The cigar-smoking pastor placed neon "Jesus" and "Saves" signs on the 13-story structure in 1989 that could be seen throughout the city. The signs were removed in September of 2011 ahead of the sale to Greenfield.

Alex Calderwood, co-founder of the Ace Hotel gave councilman José Huizar's "Bringing Back Broadway" project a shout-out when he announced the $11 million deal Monday.

"Ace Hotel and Councilmember José Huizar's Bringing Back Broadway initiative have the same goals - to create a rich neighborhood destination that serves as a center for activity, tourism, and entertainment in Downtown L.A.," Calderwood said in a statement.

The $11 million price is quite a discount from what Scott originally paid in the '80s, and several million dollars less than when the UA building was being offered for $15 million in 2009

Calderwood recently told the LA Times that they look forward to being a part of the ongoing effort to revitalize South Broadway.


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