Historic L.A. Landmark To Be Preserved As Affordable Housing

This plan upgrades an historic building while it helps house the disadvantaged.

By James L. Knobloch November 7, 2016
Image courtesy Carrier Johnson + CULTURE via Twitter

Los Angeles is one of the most popular cities in the world—a hub for food, fashion, culture and celebrity, all colliding in a sometimes incongruous but still awesome blend. But like any big city, the City of Angels is also not without its problems.

A new project on Skid Row, however, aims to tackle two of those problems—affordable housing for the underserved population and the preservation of historic landmarks—in one fell swoop.

Related: Los Angeles: The Next Stop On The L Train—With Skyscrapers, Too

The century-old Panama Hotel, which has previously served as emergency temporary housing, is being converted into permanent supportive housing by low-income housing developer SRO Housing Corp. The conversion will all but gut the original interior layout when 219 cramped emergency housing units becomes 72 furnished micro-studio apartments—a move that reflects the recent trend of waning funding for emergency housing in favor of permanent supportive housing projects.

It is hoped that the new apartments, which will each have a private living area, bathroom, closet and small kitchenette, will “more adequately provide for the needs of the occupants and better create a sense of home by allowing them to bath and cook meals in the privacy of their own space” than the previous single room “dorm style” arrangement. The $12 million renovation will provide residents of the Panama Hotel with “common laundry and resident gathering areas, offices for on-site case workers, and a bicycle storage area,” which will provide “in-building access to caseworkers, counselors and other support resources.”

The project, from Carrier Johnson + Culture Architects, aims to “provide a safe, comfortable, and sustainable environment for the people who will live and work there while respecting the historic character of the existing structure.”

But wait, there’s more!

Related: Los Angeles: The Next Stop On The L Train—With Skyscrapers, Too

In addition to providing supportive affordable housing, and preserving much of the exterior’s historic charms (working within the guidelines proposed by the State Historic Preservation Officer), when completed, the new and improved Panama Hotel will not only have been raised to today’s building standards, but also made significantly more eco-friendly.

A solar thermal system will meet as much as half of the building’s heat and hot water needs, and a cooling roof design will provide efficient temperature control. And while the deteriorating brick envelope of the building will be repaired and preserved (including its vintage neon sign), the interior structures will be removed, and new systems built within the same shell to improve the “acoustic, thermal, and structural performance of the building.”

While this and similar projects aren’t exactly bringing back the area’s bygone days as a bustling center of hotels and restaurants, anchored by the long-gone Central station, whether you crusade for historic preservation, affordable housing, or even sustainable building practices, you can mark this project down as a “win.”

James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

A creative professional with a sharp tongue and a big smile, taking on city living one slightly-veiled sarcastic comment at a time. Born and raised just outside of New Orleans, James is a living testament to his own mantra, “Southern hospitality is a privilege, not a right,” giving his work a unique, dry humor meets charm perspective.

    Stefano Boeri, the architect mastermind behind the famous plant-covered skyscrapers, is now designing Forest Cities in Liuzhou, China. #ForestCity #China
    Auction is the second scheduled in a month for a One57 unit and it could set a NYC foreclosure record. #BillionairesRow #Foreclosures
    Once a couch-surfing website, Airbnb moves on to luxury properties, further disrupting hospitality industry. #Airbnb #Luxury
Four Countries To Retire In With $200K In Savings—And How Much Real Estate Costs There
Ever dreamed of retiring abroad? You know, affordable healthcare, better climate, more positive news—becoming an expat seems like an enticing option, especially one you no…
While Other Real Estate Platforms Start Charging Agents $3-Per-Day Exposure Fee, Agorafy Remains Accessible To All
Real Estate searching platform are always finding news ways to diversify their revenues models. Case in point—on Tuesday July 18, Streeteasy, one of New York…
Is Real Estate Crowdfunding The Fix That Urban Housing In America Really Needs?
Saving money for a down payment? One can only hope. Most millennial in their twenties or thirties are mortified that they might never be able…
Brooklyn And Queens’ Real Estate Sub-Markets Continue Their Ascent To The New Heights
So, the sales prices in Brooklyn and Queens hit record highs. Again. Just like they did in December 2016 and at the end of this…
The Economy Of Car Services And Delivery Apps Might Be Making NYC Less Eco-Friendly
Living in an eco-friendly neighborhood is a good thing. And, as it always the case with the good things, it also costs more. High rents…
Building Communities: What The U.S. Developers Should Learn From Soho China
As our world emerges into the new period of globalization and technology, some of the most important by-products of this process are buildings that have…
Five Reasons Why All Entrepreneurs Must Keep Their Eyes On China
It is hard to overestimate the importance of Chinese influence on the modern global economy. Carving out a place in Chinese market and winning over…
Airbnb Up Their Game With A New Luxury Tier Featuring Mansions And Villas
Airbnb is about to seriously up their game. First, the company started testing a new service called Select in an attempt to push accommodation listings…