Micro-lofts move in at infamous Cecil Hotel

"Micro-Lofts" will soon make their home at the Cecil.
"Micro-Lofts" will soon make their home at the Cecil. Jim Winstead/Flickr

The Cecil Hotel has long been a Los Angeles landmark because of its sordid past, but now it's getting a $100 million renovation starting in 2017. The building, located in downtown near Skid Row, has become notorious for renting out rooms to serial killers, being the site of several grisly deaths and even being a place people claim to be home to ghosts.

Those notorious days appear to be coming to an end. The hotel will be renovated and revamped by New York-based development company Simon Baron.

“The building was kind of a hotbed for crime,” said Brigham Yen, a downtown L.A. real estate broker and founder of the blog DTLA Rising.

The Cecil has had a bad reputation since its glory days in the 1940s and '50s. In the '80s the hotel was home to serial killer Richard Ramirez, and in 2013, Canadian tourist Elisa Lam was found dead in a rooftop water tank.

This history hasn’t dissuaded developers, attracted to downtown’s flourishing real-estate market. Simon Baron plans on retaining the hotel half of the Cecil and turning its residential units into “micro-lofts” — small apartment units less than 500 square feet.

Developers say the units will range in size from 150 to 325 square feet and come equipped with a fold-out sofa, but not a kitchen.

Yen believes the cost of rent is unlikely go below $1,000 a month and will probably come in between $1,200 and $1,500.

“It is good to have that option there for young people,” he said. “This is something they can afford.”

L.A. rents are among the highest in the nation, and with a vacancy rate under 3 percent, even finding an expensive apartment can be difficult for many Angelenos.

Despite the high rents, Yen says micro-lofts haven’t fully caught on in L.A. Part of the reason is the sprawling nature of the city. He says micro-lofts are most popular near urban cores, like downtown and Santa Monica.

While they may be cheaper than their larger one- and two-bedroom counterparts, just because they're small isn't keeping them cheap — the One Santa Fe complex in downtown’s Arts District has micro-studios renting for almost $2,000.

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