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Downtown LA's Notoriously Creepy Cecil Hotel Is Now a Hot Commodity

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A second New York developer has stepped in to work on the hotel's trendy redevelopment

In 2014, the Downtown hotel formerly known as the Cecil Hotel—a place where murderers have holed up, bodies have been found, and whose history inspired a spooky season of American Horror Story—was sold to New York real estate developer Richard Born, with designs on making the 600-room Cecil (since renamed the Stay on Main) a more upscale join. Born, who runs expensive boutique New York hotels like the Mercer, the Maritime, the Bowery, the Greenwich, and the Ludlow, paid $30 million for the building and was set on transforming it into "reasonably priced residences catering to young professionals."

That was a pretty gutsy move, trying to take an obviously haunted and notorious hotel and make it into some kind of cool spot for young money. Now, the Stay on Main has a new leader at the helm, Simon Baron Development, which has locked down a 99-year ground lease on the building (for $15 per square feet, per year). The Historic Core hotel will be the New York-based firm's first California project (though they're very busy in NYC), says The Real Deal, and will undergo a capital modernization that'll improve it entirely. That's not one, but two New York City-based parties that really believe that they can turn the Cecil's decades of bad luck around.

Matthew Baron, the president of Simon Baron Development, tells Curbed via email that Born's plans and much of his team are still in the mix, though "we will likely make some tweaks." The plan as of now is to turn the Stay on Main into a mix of rental apartments and hotel rooms (no condos); they'll soon be announcing "a very special program for the rental portion."

A photo of the lobby at the Stay on Main/Hotel Cecil.
The lobby at the Stay on Main/Cecil Hotel.
Alejandro Jofré/Creative Commons

Additionally, the company plans to restore the building, which opened in 1924, so that it can fit in with the increasingly trendy Downtown atmosphere.

This is all a huge change of fortune for the Cecil, which didn't have much time after its stately opening in the 1920s before the Great Depression hit, and the hotel became a hotspot for transients, prostitutes, and unsavory characters. The Cecil's reputation had already been firmly cemented by the time the 1980s rolled around and it gained notoriety as the home of the serial killer the Nightstalker, aka Richard Ramirez. (Ramirez lived there for two years, during which he committed 13 murders—that we know about.)

In 2013, a guest at the hotel went missing and was found nearly three weeks later, floating in the hotel's rooftop water cistern. Though her death was ultimately ruled an accident, her story and the grainy security footage that documented her last known whereabouts in the hotel served as inspiration for American Horror Story: Hotel.

Long-term lessee Baron tells Curbed that there are no further details yet about what's coming for the Stay on Main. Born's originally stated plans called for a rebranding of the hotel after a couple of years, as well as the addition of a bar, restaurant, and a rooftop wading pool that would be unsettlingly close to that infamous water tower.

Cecil Hotel

640 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014