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KOREATOWN : New Hotel Greeted With Enthusiasm

October 04, 1992|JAKE DOHERTY

A new hotel in the heart of Koreatown has quickly become one of the community's most popular meeting places.

Last week the $13.7-million Oxford Palace Hotel and Galleria at Oxford Avenue and 8th Street hosted eight events in a single day. Two weeks ago, during the Koreatown Festival, autograph seekers flocked to see Olympic marathon gold medalist Hwang Young Jo, who jogged inside the hotel, and other celebrity guests.

The 92-room, four-story hotel is designed in Classical Revival style with an 18-foot cascade in the lobby, an art gallery, three restaurants and a piano bar. The hotel also offers several small meeting rooms, a banquet room that can seat 300 and underground parking for about 200 vehicles.

"This will be the center of activity for businessmen and local groups," said Chull Huh, secretary general of the Korean Chamber of Commerce. "Before, when we wanted to have large meetings, we had to go outside of Koreatown. We welcome this (hotel) in our community."

Even before its Sept. 25 grand opening, the hotel hosted several visiting dignitaries from South Korea, as well as banquets for Korean-American community groups. The hotel has banquets booked for every weekend through January and is at 100% occupancy for the next few weekends, said Jason S. Kim, a real estate broker who worked with the owners, Bo Whan Kim and Do Won Chang. The owners hope to attract business people and tourists from across the country.

The first-class hotel should contribute to Koreatown's recovery from the April-May riots, said Paul Kim, the architect. "The timing and location of this hotel are very important," Kim said. "It's quickly becoming a gathering place, drawing more people into the neighborhood, which should help the retail stores within walking distance of the hotel."

Additional lighting and 24-hour security guards outside the hotel should also improve the neighborhood, Paul Kim said.

Although it's too soon to determine the effect on local businesses, Paul In, who, with his wife, Young, runs an optical store in a nearby mini-mall, said the hotel sends the message that "Koreatown is growing again. It's a good sign."

The hotel's 75-member staff also reflects the diversity of the neighborhood and a desire to impress. "I was really surprised when a Latino employee greeted me with ' Anyeong haseo ' ('Hello. How are you?')," Paul Kim said.

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