Pedestrians passing by Giannini Place at Seventh and Olive might not notice the building, but they probably notice its doors, where "whimsical images of American coins [are] sculpted in the terra cotta that frames the elaborate bronze front doors," as the LA Conservancy puts it. Long neglected, this 12-story building, built in 1923 to house the Bank of Italy, is now getting in on the sweet, sweet adaptive reuse action that is spreading through Downtown. The LA Times reports that the building's been purchased by hip Sydell Group (of Ktown's super-cool The Line hotel), which plans to turn it into a fancy boutique hotel and maybe even an outpost of the group's NoMad Hotel in Manhattan.
This is Sydell Group's second big recent purchase in a one-block radius. In July, they bought the Commercial Exchange Building on Eighth and Olive, and announced they'd be turning it into a design-y Freehand-brand hostel. The Freehand's expected to be complete in about 18 months.
Giannini Place's hotel will be operated by Sydell and will be a big step up in fanciness and price from the Freehand. There's a chance this might become an LA location of the NoMad Hotel, a place "with Paris-inspired interiors by Jacques Garcia featuring clawfoot bathtubs and reclaimed maple floors," according to Curbed NY. The interior of the former Bank of Italy Building, designed by Morgan, Walls & Clements, is certainly ripe for that kind of grandeur, with golden, coffered lobby ceilings and marble floors. (It's an LA Historic-Cultural Monument.) That lobby will become a "living room" for guests to hang out in; the first floor will also have a restaurant and bar. In addition to 250 rooms, Sydell's planning a rooftop pool and party space. The new hotel could be complete in about a year.
These super-fancy lodgings will fit right in on the block. Just up the street, the Macy's Plaza is being transformed into a more open and inviting shopping plaza with its own boozy indie movie theater. The Bank of Italy building shares the block with the LA Athletic Club, an LA institution that's getting its own makeover that will include a "salt cave" and a speakeasy bar. It's also across from super-popular, super-loud eatery Bottega Louie, which is apparently one of the highest grossing restaurants in the city. Aside from the super-popular Ace Hotel, which opened early last year, DTLA is also getting new boutique hotels inside the old Hotel Clark near Pershing Square and the old Embassy Hotel near Grand and Eighth.