History in the remaking

History in the remaking

City Design Commission to look again at conversion plans for Julia Morgan YWCA 

By André Coleman 03/20/2014

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Plans to convert a Pasadena architectural landmark into a hotel will go back to a city commission for a second look later this month.

On Monday, the Pasadena City Council reviewed predevelopment plans for the long-vacant YWCA building, which is expected to be converted into a boutique hotel. The plans are scheduled to go back to the Design Commission on March 27 for a second review. 

The building — located on the corner of Marengo Avenue and Holly Street — was designed in 1921 by Julia Morgan, California’s first licensed female architect. Built the following year, the structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property has also been designated as a historic monument by city officials. The back end of the block-long, two-story building faces Pasadena City Hall, which was built in 1927. The building has been vacant since 1997. 

“This is a critical step in the process before any construction begins,” Mayor Bill Bogaard told the Pasadena Weekly on Monday. “This is an opportunity for the council and the community to find out what is going on and what is being planned.”

According to Bogaard, the developer is still a “number of months away from any construction activity.”

According to a city staff report, originally Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant, which outbid six other developers to design the hotel, submitted plans for a six-story 96,000 square foot hotel with 196 rooms, a restaurant and two bridal suites. The Design Commission recommended the project be scaled back to 88,740 square feet and include only 180 rooms for guests. Further, the commission recommended that the hotel be between four and six stories tall. 

The nine-member board also recommended that the new hotel be completely detached from the original YWCA building.

The Urban Forestry Advisory Committee will also meet to discuss the removal of several trees on the property, which could be uprooted and replanted elsewhere. After that, the city will hold public hearings regarding the environmental impact report for the proposed hotel. 

Bogaard said the long process was necessary in order to guarantee the landmark was properly preserved. 

“This is an effort which is strongly motivated by the historic and architectural significance of the building,” Bogaard said. “We want to reuse this building in a manner that completely protects it historical and architectural integrity.” 

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