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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

Ambassador Hotel Owners Make Offer to District

May 26, 2000

LOS ANGELES — In an effort to end a 10-year legal battle, the owners of the former Ambassador Hotel offered Thursday to pay the Los Angeles Unified School District $20 million and deed the district up to 12 acres of the landmark on Wilshire Boulevard for a middle school.

The offer from Wilshire Center Marketplace came on the same day the California Court of Appeal turned down the partnership's request for an order preventing the school district from foreclosing on the 23.5-acre site.

A senior school official said he saw nothing new in the offer but would consider reopening negotiations with the company on the condition that it changes its position to allow a senior high school.

"Obviously, anything that permits us to build a high school faster, we will focus on it," said Howard Miller, the district's chief operating officer. "But at the end of the day we have got to be able to build a high school."

The stalemate has its roots in the district's decision in the early 1990s to condemn the property then owned by a partnership led by real estate magnate Donald Trump, who planned to build the world's tallest building there.

The district paid the firm nearly $50 million as a deposit, but later dropped the plan, instead buying land near downtown for the now-abandoned Belmont Learning Complex project.

The district has obtained a court order allowing it to recover the money through a foreclosure sale.

Now that the owners's request for a stay has been rejected, Miller said, the district will schedule a sheriff's sale as soon as possible.

But the district's plan still faces opposition from the Los Angeles Conservancy, which wants to preserve the hotel, and civic leaders who don't want a high school.

The complex offer floated by the owner included a 90-day negotiation with the conservancy to determine whether any of the hotel can be preserved as part of a successful development.

A landmark would reduce the portion offered for a school to as little as seven acres.

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