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The Real Deal Los Angeles

This month in real estate history: Realtors’ New Year’s resolutions, condo buyers grapple with trauma … and more

Revised plans for the Hotel Alexandria, while Beverly Hills incorporates
By Gabrielle Paluch | January 30, 2017 01:00PM

The Hotel Alexandria

In a newly introduced feature, The Real Deal will take a monthly dive into L.A.’s storied real estate history.  

January, 1905– Real estate men make new year’s resolutions

On the first day of 1905, the Los Angeles Herald reported the new year’s resolutions of L.A.’s real estate professionals, a “clever bunch of hustlers who infest every part of Los Angeles.” The Herald presented suggestions from “friends of the gang” for how L.A.’s realtors could best turn a new leaf in the new year. For broker P.M. Phelps, friends suggested he swear off spending any more than he could help, and “not spend his commissions until his sales are closed.” As for Lee McConnell, he resolved, if placed on the police commission, that he would “see that no real estate man will be arrested if he leaves his horse tied over twenty minutes if he can prove he is trying to make a sale.” Council member George A. Smith of Nolan & Smith resolved to run for governor next time, as “the councilmanship came too easily.” And W.H. Allen & Son made a sacred vow to “do even greater business than in 1904” and to “hustle from dark until dawn” in order to “produce a row of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ about this long.”

January, 1905 –Developers unveil expanded plans for L.A.’s largest skyscraper hotel

Expanded plans for what became the Hotel Alexandria in Downtown L.A. were announced 112 years ago this month, the Los Angeles Herald reported. The revised plans, which called for four additional stories to be added to the building’s annex, paved the way for developers Albert C. Bilicke and Robert A. Rowan to build  the largest hotel building in Southern California at the time. The hotel’s 12-story annex, at Spring and Fifth Streets, would be as tall as the the nearby Braly Block building (now Continental Building), the city’s first skyscraper, completed in 1904. The project’s architect, John Parkinson, also designed City Hall and Union Station. The total project cost was just $400,000.  Hotel Alexandria was the city’s most elegant when it opened, but fell into disrepair and was used as single-room-occupancy housing, until it was later redeveloped into apartments. The hotel is rumored to be haunted. Until recently, a sealed-off wing in the complex served as a sort of time capsule, having remained untouched since the 1930s.  Developer Bilicke died in 1915 when he went down with the ocean liner RMS Lusitania.

January, 1914 — Beverly Hills incorporates

The City of Beverly Hills incorporated 103 years ago this month, the Los Angeles Times reported, by a vote of 66 to 13 at a Los Angeles City Council meeting. Among the elected trustees was P.E. Benedict, a prominent pioneer whose family settled on land in Beverly Hills in the 1860s, and after whom Benedict Canyon is named. At the time, there were just 100 people living in the city now known as Beverly Hills.

January, 1976 — L.A. buyers get to grips with condos

Condo buyers must “grapple with trauma”, the Los Angeles Times reported 41 years ago this month, as the changeover to the lifestyle presents severe traumatic issues and decisions for longtime single-family dwellers. “What we must sell the homeowner is a totally new way of living,” Kent Heyl, president of Coast Equities, a Long Beach real estate marketing firm told the L.A. Times, noting the decision to make the transition from a home to a condominium takes a great deal of courage. “How about selling the home you’ve lived in for 25 years and moving away from your friends and neighbors into a beautiful new condominium?” Heyl said of condo purchasers. “We have found after a few months, they become firm advocates of condominium living.”