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Pasadena negotiating to convert historic YWCA into boutique hotel

June 13, 2013|By Joe Piasecki, Los Angeles Times
  • A women and a child walk by the long-shuttered YWCA in Pasadena.
A women and a child walk by the long-shuttered YWCA in Pasadena. (Bret Hartman / For the Los…)

Pasadena officials are negotiating a proposal to convert the city’s long-vacant former YWCA building into a 150-room boutique hotel, the city has announced.

Completed in 1921 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the three-story building near Pasadena City Hall was designed by Julia Morgan, believed to be America’s first independently practicing female architect.

Morgan also designed Hearst Castle and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner building.

The city invoked eminent domain to acquire the former YWCA from a Hong Kong investor for $8.3 million in April 2012 after it stood vacant on the corner of Marengo Avenue and Holly Street for 14 years.

Officials estimated a price tag of as much as $10 million to restore the dilapidated 40,000-square-foot building, which had sustained significant fire and water damage to its interior while boarded up.

The deal currently on the table involves a long-term lease by the city to San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, a company that specializes in boutique hotels. The company also operates Hotel Palomar in Westwood and Hotel Wilshire, near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Financial and other details of the plan — which is subject to a 120-day exclusive negotiation agreement — will remain confidential until a contract goes before the City Council for approval.

The Kimpton plan was one of six proposals submitted to the city in July, each involving reuse of the building as a hotel, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard said.

Sue Mossman, executive director of the preservation group Pasadena Heritage and a member of the team that evaluated proposals, said the project attempts to balance fiscal constraints with the historic integrity of the former YWCA.

“This building is a treasure in the city’s architectural legacy,” Bogaard said.

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joe.piasecki@latimes.com

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