Town House, remnant of Westlake’s glitzy past, targeted for renovations

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Renovations and a change of ownership may be in the works for a historic high-rise near the border of Westlake and Koreatown.

Built in 1929, the Town House, which sits across the street from Lafayette Park, was once among the most luxurious apartment buildings in Los Angeles. It became a city landmark in 1993 and was later converted into a low-income housing complex.

Now, a nonprofit group called Communities for a Better Life is seeking to purchase and rehabilitate the building, though it would still be used as affordable housing.

The organization has requested a $28 million loan from the California Municipal Finance Authority, a state agency that funds housing and infrastructure projects. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council will vote on whether to approve its part of that deal.

It’s not yet clear what kind of renovations the developer plans to undertake on the building, but because of the building’s landmark status, any exterior work will have to be approved by the city’s historic resources office.


The building’s onetime lobby.
Los Angeles Public Library

The Norman W. Alpaugh-designed building has undergone many changes over the years. When it opened, the Los Angeles Times noted that each unit in the $4 million complex was equipped with seven electronic buttons used to summon maid and valet service.

The collection of Wedgwood china in the building’s restaurant was “the most valuable outside of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

At the time the Wilshire corridor was emerging as one of the city’s most fashionable stretches of real estate, known to some boosters as the “Champs Elysees of the Pacific.”

Converted to a hotel in 1937, the Town House was also home to the swanky Zebra Room lounge, where everything from the upholstery to the tableware followed the zebra-stripe theme.

The building sold to Conrad Hilton in 1942 and was for years a popular destination for Hollywood stars, from Bing Crosby to Betty Grable.

Sheraton took over the hotel in 1954, and operated it as the Sheraton Town House until sagging business forced the hotel to close in 1993. Amid threats of demolition, preservationists succeeded in landmarking the building later that year.

Eventually, in 2001, the building became low-income housing, with 142 affordable units. Amenities for residents include access to the building’s Olympic-size swimming pool—one of the first ever constructed in the city.

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