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Hip Hostel Headed to DTLA's Long-Vacant CommEx Building

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The 1924 Commercial Exchange Building in the Historic Core has been sold to the Sydell Group for an undisclosed amount and will become a Freehand-brand hostel, geared toward a "younger" (poorer?) traveler, according to a press release from Councilmember Jose Huizar yesterday. The Sydell Group, who are behind Koreatown's The Line hotel and Palm Springs's Saguaro, are planning "200 rooms, featuring a lobby living room, and ground floor retail, with restaurant and bar offerings," plus a pool and lounge on the roof of the 13-story building.

The rooms will range from traditional hotel accommodations to hostel-like rooms with up to eight beds that can be reserved as a group or individually. The hotel will also use CommEx's neon sign, which is one of the tallest in LA. Killefer Flammang will handle design, though their work on the historic building will probably be largely restricted to the interior. Freehand is a joint venture between Sydell and Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies. Freehand Miami, the only extant hostel to date by the brand, looks like a pretty stylish place.

The Commercial Exchange, designed by Walker & Eisen, has been empty for about two decades now, but has seen a surge of interest in the last couple years (especially from hotel developers)—probably something to do with the boom in development and investment nearby, and a rise in confidence in the Downtown scene. Before its vacancy, it certainly had a heyday, though; it once housed the Owl drugstore headquarters and the publishing house of Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs. It also had a considerable slice taken out of it in the 1930s to make way for a widening Olive Street.
· Hotels and Others Clamoring For DTLA's Commercial Exchange [Curbed LA]