For years, the square-shouldered Park Plaza Hotel, epauletted in angels, looming over MacArthur Park, has been one of Los Angeles's most frustrating empty buildings. Guests at Daft Punk's Grammy party and the crew of Gangster Squad have seen its still-beautiful insides, but aside from occasional parties or film shoots, the building is closed to the public. Now that's finally about to change: DCGG Park Plaza, owners of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, have just entered into a joint venture with the Park Plaza's owners (Wilshire Park Plaza LLC), buying an interest in the 1925 building and planning vaguely for a "redevelopment." It's not clear exactly what they'll do, but the moment is right for something big to go down at the Park Plaza.
Tom Nguyen of NAI Capital represented both sides in the deal and tells us that the Roosevelt owners aren't entirely sure yet what they want to do with the Park Plaza, although "initially they're going to focus more on the existing infrastructure." The building doesn't have any hotel rooms right now and probably won't become a hotel anytime soon, but he says the situation will be similar to the one at the Roosevelt, where the owners took a beautiful historic landmark and "turned that building into a Hollywood hotspot and icon." So entertainment venues and restaurants are definitely on the list of options.
The 12-story, Neo-Gothic Park Plaza was built in 1925 by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks as a clubhouse for Lodge #99 (founded in 1888 on South Spring Street in Downtown). Architects Aleck Curlett and Claude Beelman designed the building to Elks specifications, "on a scale so large that it will dwarf the human figure to a remarkable degree," with "a typical Grecian and Syrian architecture" for the interiors, as described in a 1924 LA Times story quoted by the Daily Mirror (which happens to have just published a detailed history of the building). Highlights of the $2.5-million building included a 50-foot-high lobby entrance, a 1,500-seat lodge room, 175 upper-floor rooms for out-of-town guests, six bowling alleys, a haberdashery, Turkish baths, rooftop gardens on the north and south wings, Anthony Heinsbergen murals, and what we're told is still a spectacular ballroom.
Elks membership declined by mid-century and the building was put up for auction in September 1966; it sold a couple months later to a Baur Properties. Over the next couple decades, "the Temple held punk rock concerts, served as a youth hostel, operated as the Masque Theatre, and continued operating as the Park Plaza Hotel," according to the Daily Mirror. The city gave it landmark status in 1983 and through the years it's appeared in The Mask, The Fisher King, and Inspector Gadget.
The building last sold in 2007, according to the city's zoning website, and today it's mostly just rented out for special events. But Westlake/MacArthur Park is on the cusp of gentrification—its historic theaters are being turned into concert venues and creative office space, new high-end apartments are on the way—and the time is clearly right for the Park Plaza to make its big comeback.