Downtown L.A. theater and office building to be turned into hotel

A downtown Los Angeles theater and office complex built by silent film stars will be converted to a hotel.

Ace Hotel, a Portland, Ore., chain of boutique inns catering to the young and hip, will develop a new outpost in the historic United Artists building at Broadway and 9th Street.

The 180-room hotel will occupy the office building’s 13 floors, Ace said. It will have a pool, restaurant, bar and 1,600-seat theater when it opens in summer 2013.

“The United Artists building has an intriguing history and is an outstanding example of 1920s gothic architecture,” said Alex Calderwood, a co-founder of Ace Hotel. “We look forward to being a part of the ongoing effort to revitalize South Broadway.”

The complex at 927 S. Broadway was built in 1927 in part to provide a theater for the movie production company founded by film luminaries Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith.


The Spanish Gothic theater was designed by C. Howard Crane and the office tower by Walker & Eisen, the team behind other local landmarks including the Fine Arts Building downtown and the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills.

Greenfield Partners, a hotel investor based in South Norwalk, Conn., bought the United Artists building for $11 million in October from Wescott Christian Center Inc. One of the founders of Wescott was Gene Scott, a flamboyant preacher whose broadcasts were heard nationally. He died in 2005.

Ace Hotel will operate the inn for Greenfield. Other Ace hotels are in renovated buildings in Portland, Seattle, New York and Palm Springs.

“This partnership marks the first of what we hope are many projects with Ace Hotel,” said Greenfield founder and Chief Executive Eugene A. Gorab. “The United Artists building will be a great example of the unique and exciting places we hope to create together.”

Greenfield and Ace have yet to determine how the theater that premiered with Pickford’s film “My Best Girl” will be used. Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar is leading a campaign to restore the historic Broadway theater district and bring new merchants and tenants to the neighborhood.

“This is really a shot in the arm for the Bringing Back Broadway initiative,” Huizar said. “We’ve been talking about getting a boutique hotel here and now we have one with a brand name.”