Julia's child

Julia's child

City considers turning historic Morgan building into a boutique hotel

By André Coleman 06/13/2013

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Pasadena officials have signed a 120-day exclusive negotiation agreement with Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants to explore restoration options of the historic Julia Morgan building which include converting the city’s former YWCA into a 150-room boutique hotel.

The long-vacant structure at the corner of Marengo Avenue and Holly Street — built in 1922 — was designed by Julia Morgan, California’s first licensed female architect, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property has also been designated as a historic monument by city officials. The back end of the block-long, two-story building faces Pasadena City Hall, which was built in 1927.

“The No. 1 priority is the preservation of the building,” Assistant City Manager Steve Mermell told the Weekly. “The city went into this for the purpose of preserving a historic asset. The No. 2 priority is coming up with a project that has some economic benefit to the city. The city spent a lot of money to acquire the property and our thought was it would be ideal to generate some revenue to pay back the $8.1 million and be an economic catalyst near the Civic Center. That is why the hotel is the No.1 option.”

According to its Web site, Kimpton specializes in adapting historic landmark buildings. The goal is to reach a long-term agreement to make the project a reality. Officials for Kimpton and the city will be meeting during the next few months to work out a lease agreement. No further details of the lease negotiations will be released until an agreement is reached and presented to the City Council for approval, Mermel said.

Having been empty and deteriorating for two decades, the structure was acquired by the city through eminent domain in 2010. Kimpton is hoping to transform the building into a fashionable, 150-room boutique hotel.  
“We have particular expertise in adaptive reuse projects and we are very interested in expanding our footprint of great hotels and restaurants in Southern California, especially in the city of Pasadena, where we’d be proud to lay roots,” Kimpton CEO Michael Depatie said in a statement. n

For an expanded version of this story, visit pasadenaweekly.com.

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