Partial demolition for the landmark Morrison Hotel (Morgan, Walls and Morgan, 1914)? That’s the plan of Relevant Group, the developer that’s currently facing a Congressional investigation over alleged EB-5 Chinese investor visa fraud for its Hollywood hotels.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Please send an email by 5pm on Monday, 4/25 to the Planning Department about the Draft EIR, stating your opposition to partial demolition of this potential National Register landmark. Relevant owns all the surrounding parcels and plans to build huge towers there—they should restore and not destroy this beautiful and culturally significant Los Angeles treasure.

If you’d like to learn more, visit the project site: https://planning.lacity.org/development-services/eir/morrison-project-0

Our email about the Morrison Hotel project is below, and you can use what we wrote as a model, adding a few words of your own to make it unique. Together, we can help save the Morrison Hotel, the jewel of lower Hope Street.

TO: Erin Strelich, City of Los Angeles, Department of City Planning (erin.strelich@lacity.org)
CC: Emma Howard, Council District 14 (emma.howard@lacity.org)

SUBJECT: The Morrison Project – ENV-2018-2294-EIR

Dear Erin Strelich,

We are writing to voice our opposition to the findings of Section IVB, Cultural Resources in the Draft EIR for the Morrison Project proposed for 1220-1246 S. Hope St., Los Angeles, CA 90015.

The project as proposed would result in the partial demolition of the Morrison Hotel, a significant historic resource. Designed by master architects Morgan, Walls & Morgan, who played a leading role in shaping the early Los Angeles built environment, the Morrison is an excellent example of a 1910s downtown hotel, reflecting early patterns of commercial development in the central business district. As an SRO which for many decades was a home to working Angelenos and seniors living on fixed incomes, until all of the tenants were unceremoniously evicted in 2005, the Morrison reflects the city’s social and commercial history and the tradition of residency hotels as a fixture in American urban life.

The building is also significant for its association with the influential Los Angeles rock band, The Doors. For the cover of their album “Morrison Hotel” (Elektra, 1970) the band was photographed by Henry Diltz inside the lobby, with the hand painted reverse glass MORRISON HOTEL sign framing the band members. In 2020, photographer Diltz curated a “Day of the Doors” exhibition at the hotel, with the long derelict lobby returned to its 1970 appearance so that a new generation of fans could pose where the band did.

Although this project has been presented in the developer’s marketing materials as a restoration, as proposed it would cause major, irreparable harm to an architecturally and culturally significant building, rendering it no longer eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Most troubling, the proposed destruction of the interior light/ventilation wells to turn the E-shaped hotel into a C-shaped structure would erase the historic context and architectural integrity of this 108-year-old landmark. Further, the proposed surrounding construction seeks to destroy a block of fine low-rise commercial and industrial structures that all contribute to telling the story of the Ponet Family’s role in developing the Auto Row section of Downtown Los Angeles.

We call on the city to ensure that any new development protects, preserves and adaptively reuses the existing structures on this block, which is the path causing the least harm to historic resources, and the most ecologically responsible solution.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,
Kim Cooper & Richard Schave
Cultural and Architectural Historians

Update June 18, 2022: after submitting our public feedback about the Morrison Hotel project, developer Relevant Group reached out and invited us to meet and tour the property, which they wanted us to see had been gutted. We, too, are gutted and extremely upset about this abuse of a cultural and architectural resource. But it is not too late to protect, landmark and restore this great building to again be affordable housing for Angelenos who need it.