In preparation for the start of demolition this summer of the now-closed 936-room Wilshire Grand Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the hotel will reopen its doors Thursday for the start of a massive sale of its furniture, plates, towels and television sets, among thousands of items in the building.
Everything must go, including the kitchen sinks, which are priced at $350.
"But our kitchen sinks are a little bigger than most," said Frank Long, president of International Content Liquidations Inc., the Ohio firm that is running what is expected to be a $2-million liquidation sale starting at 9 a.m. Long lines are expected.
The 60-year-old hotel that closed in December is reopening its doors temporarily to let the public stroll through the lobby, the ballrooms and three of the hotel's 16 floors to shop for just about everything, including beds, paintings and even three baby grand pianos ($4,500 each). Even toilet paper roll dispensers are priced to sell at $2 each.
Korean Airlines, a subsidiary of the South Korean conglomerate Hanjin Group, owns the hotel at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and South Figueroa Street.
Plans now call for replacing it with a single skyscraper between 65 and 70 stories tall, with office space in the bottom floors and hotel rooms in the top floors.
The project had previously called for two towers, but representatives for the property owner said the project manager, Martin Property Management, is working on new plans, with details to be announced soon. The project is slated for completion in three to five years.
But first, Long and his team must sell more than 50,000 hotel items, from the cheapest (33 cents for a coat hanger) to the most expensive ($50,000 for an air-conditioning unit).
The first items to sell out, Long predicted, will be the silverware, with prices starting at $2 apiece, and the 32-inch flat-screen plasma TV sets, priced at $189. Even chandeliers and equipment from the hotel's five restaurants will be marked with price tags.
The sale will continue seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, until everything is sold. Long estimates that it may take about 45 days.
"This will be a busy, busy place," he said as he toured the hotel's Pacific Ballroom, which is crowded with tables stacked with silverware, plates, coffee pots and linen.
The history of the hotel can be spotted on the silverware, stamped with the hotel's various names through the years, including the Hotel Statler, the Statler Hilton, the Omni and the Wilshire Grand.
"So there is 60 years' worth of silverware that they never threw out," said Karen Rieckers, an associate with the liquidation company.
Workers at the liquidation sale expect the crowds to be large and, perhaps, unruly.
When the Hotel Bel-Air closed in 2009 for a two-year renovation, the hotel held a liquidation sale at a Santa Monica storefront.
On the first day of that sale, lines streamed outside the building and tempers flared when a buyer blocked an aisle with a stack of carpets she planned to buy. Security guards had to push back crowds that tried to storm the storefront, exceeding the limit of 50 people at a time.
At the Wilshire Grand, security guards will be posted throughout the building and a $5 entrance fee will be charged to ensure that only serious buyers come in.
"Will there be clashes? All day long," Long said. "We are prepared. We know what to expect."