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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Engine Real Estate plans boutique hotel at former Arts District firehouse

The 8,700-sf property was company's first acquisition
By Cathaleen Chen | February 14, 2017 12:00PM

The property at 710 South Sante Fe Avenue and Engine president David Walker

UPDATED, 3:20 p.m., Feb. 14: Engine Real Estate is planning to tranform its first ever asset, a firehouse near Warner Music Group’s Ford Factory building in Downtown’s Arts District, into a boutique hotel.

Engine filed plans last week to turn the two-story firehouse at 710 South Sante Fe Avenue, which spans about 8,700 square feet, into a 10-key hotel, according to city records. The building, which dates back to 1928, had most recently been used as a retail space and residence.

The plans require a general plan amendment to change the land use designation from heavy manufacturing to commercial use.

“It would’ve been easy to do a creative office conversion, especially considering Warner Music moving across the street,” Engine’s in-house broker Aram Pogosian told The Real Deal. “But all it would’ve brought was creatives behind closed doors, and we thought a hotel would not only activate our building but also be part of Arts District’s [growth].”

Jeffrey Birkmeyer, who co-founded Engine in 2013, acquired the property for about $2.6 million in 2007, property records show. It was the firm’s first acquisition and even served as inspiration for its name. Above its double red doors, which remain intact, a concrete placard reads, “Engine Co. No. 17.”

Now, almost a decade later, Engine is looking to cash in on the rising tide of development in the Arts District. The operator and brand of the hotel has yet to be disclosed, but will be “locally recognized,” Pogosian said.

Engine’s plans were filed ahead of the looming Measure S, which would place a two-year moratorium on projects such as this one, which require zoning changes.