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DTLA’s Commercial Exchange building up for landmark status

A great example of Beaux Arts architecture by renowned architects

A photo of the exterior of the Commercial Exchange building, soon to open as the Freehand Hotel.
A photo of the exterior of the Commercial Exchange building, which currently houses the Freehand Hotel.
Hunter Kerhart/Curbed LA flickr pool

Downtown LA’s Commercial Exchange building was recently converted into the home of the hip new hostel-inspired hotel, the Freehand. Now, the building might be recognized for its historic features.

The Downtown News reports that the city may designate it a cultural historic landmark. The City Council’s Cultural Heritage Commission and the Planning and Land Use Management committee have both supported giving the 13-story edifice cultural landmark status.

Built in 1924, the Commercial Exchange building was designed by Walker & Eisen, the architects who designed two other prominent buildings in DTLA: the Art Deco Oviatt building and the building that houses the Ace Hotel.

The Cultural Heritage Commission’s report on the Commercial Exchange called it an excellent example of both Beaux Arts architecture and the work of Walker & Eisen, considered “the preeminent architectural firm in Southern California during the 1920s and 1940s.”

A few developers eyed it for renovation in recent years. Ultimately, Sydell Group bought it in 2014, and it reopened as the Freehand in June.

The City Council will consider the landmark status application on August 30, city documents show. The News says the council is expected to approve the building’s historic designation.