December 14th, 2011
Redevelopment of Dunbar Hotel on Historic Central Avenue Officially Begins
This week marked an important milestone in our efforts to develop and invest in historic Central Avenue. We broke ground on Dunbar Village, which includes the highly anticipated renovation of the historic Dunbar Hotel and the adjacent Somerville I and II apartments. The project represents a collaboration between the City and private partners to restore and renovate a historic landmark in a manner that properly highlights and celebrates the significant history embodied by the hotel that sits on Central Avenue, the home of west coast jazz.
The history of the Dunbar hotel helps to tell the story of the African-American experience in Los Angeles. The first African-American owned hotel, it served for years as the cultural hub of the Avenue, an area hailed as Los Angeles’ Jazz Corridor and cultural center of the community. The hotel hosted abolitionist leaders, writers, and musicians, such as W.E.B Dubois, Langston Hughes, and Lena Horne. It became the focal point of Central Avenue from the 1920s to the 1950s, due to its high profile visitors and first class accommodations. The hotel was later renamed the Dunbar Hotel, after African-American poet, Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Until the 1970s, the Dunbar Hotel created economic activity on Central Avenue and was one of Los Angeles’ epicenters of African-American thought during the civil rights movement. It was because of this that I was proud to lead the efforts to ensure that the hotel was redeveloped in a way that supported and enhanced the Central Avenue community for generations to come.
I am thankful to the Coalition for Responsible Community Development and Thomas Safran & Associates for partnering to restore the Dunbar Village and working with local youth to provide on-site construction and permanent jobs and create much-needed affordable housing. Additionally, they will continue our efforts to bring sustainable practices to our community; the building will be Silver LEED certified, adhering to strict environmental standards. I hope that the renovation serves as a model for other such holistic transformations that support our community, through job creation, housing development, and a greater understanding of our city’s history.