Dunbar Hotel Rehabilitation Project

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During the 1930s and 1940s, the Dunbar Hotel served as a prestigious central location for Los Angeles’s African-American community. Hosting legendary musicians and artists like Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday, Louie Armstrong, and many more, the Dunbar’s importance to the City of Los Angeles has lasted through the generations. It resides on the U.S. National Registrar of Historic Places and is one of the Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument sites.
The Dunbar closed its doors as a hotel in 1974 after other hotels began to accept African-American reservations, and opened again in 1990 as low-income housing, foreclosing in 2008. In preparation for its reuse as a senior living facility in 2013, the City of Los Angeles hired ESA to provide a Historic Resources Rehabilitation Report. The document included a careful space-by-space inventory and database of character-defining features associated with the Dunbar Hotel’s period of significance (1928-1970). The report also identified issues and concerns that should be taken into account during the building rehabilitation and the long-term preservation. 
The new senior living facility opened amid local fanfare, as described in the LA Times article, An Encore for the Historic Dunbar Hotel. The $30 million renovation transformed the hotel into 41 apartments and gave a rebirth to the murals painted on the walls and other original architectural details, making it a landmark in downtown Los Angeles once again.
ESA received a Los Angeles Conservancy 2014 Preservation Award in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation for The Dunbar Hotel Rehabilitation project. The project was also awarded the 2014 Westside Prize from the Westside Urban Forum.  

Specialized Services

  • Adaptive reuse and rehabilitation
  • Historic properties treatment plans
  • Historical investigations, documentation, and plans

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