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Pasadena suspends proposed Kimpton Hotel in vacant YWCA building

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At issue is the Julia Morgan-designed building, which badly needs repairs

Pasadena city officials this week put a hold on a Kimpton Hotel project proposed to occupy the vacant Julia Morgan-designed YWCA building on the edge of that city's historic civic center plaza after the developer sought more than $30 million in concessions.

The City Council voted 5-2 to suspend the project after KHP Capital Partners sought a waiver of rent and parking fees for 50 years of a proposed 99-year lease, the Pasadena Star-News reported. The city had approved construction of the 181-room hotel in August.

The council said it would analyze the construction costs and seek alternative projects for the building.

KHP said it needed the concessions because of higher-than-expected construction costs. City staffers favored the subsidy, saying the city ultimately stood to reap much more in taxes over the life of the hotel.

At stake is the future of the historic building, which was designed by the architect who also created the L.A. Herald-Examiner building and Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. The building needs $10 million to $14 million in repairs and renovation after sitting vacant for decades.

The Kimpton project—on a site bounded by Garfield Avenue, Union Street, Marengo Avenue and Holly—has been controversial in Pasadena. It would include the construction of a new two-to-six-story building on civic center plaza, Pasadena Now reported.

Among the project’s opponents is the Pasadena Civic Center Coalition, which sued to stop it in part because it would encroach on green space in the plaza.

But the local preservation group Pasadena Heritage supports the hotel because, "it is an ideal reuse for the former YWCA building, which has sat vacant now for 20 years, complies with the original Bennett Plan that called for a future building in this location, would do much to enliven the Civic Center and provide public amenities, and increase pedestrian activity throughout the day and evening hours," the group said in its April newsletter.

Herald-Examiner Building

1111 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA