Aztec Hotel may reopen next year

The Aztec Hotel on old Route 66 in Monrovia, California, may reopen sometime in 2015, reported the Pasadena Star-News.

However, with the report about the historic building containing caveats — plus the owner’s problems in managing the property — one has to wonder whether the hotel will reopen at all next year.

Excerpts from the story:

A former manager who started the renovations by overhauling the hotel restaurant is now entangled in a lawsuit against the hotel’s Chinese owner, alleging discrimination and wrongful termination.

Also, a series of negotiations to lease the hotel’s empty retail spaces fell through, leaving a long-established barbershop as the sole tenant. In January, one new business moved in — a Route 66 memorabilia and gift shop — but it was gone in less than six months. […]

Despite its troubles, the current hotel manager says plenty has gone on behind the scenes as preparation, and he is optimistic about what the Aztec could become — a boutique destination for Route 66 travelers, ghost hunters and anyone interested in the hotel’s inherent nostalgia and kitsch.

“The goal is to bring it back to the 20s and 30s design, but with modern amenities,” said Peter Kertenian, whose background includes managing Marriott hotels. […]

The restaurant and the Aztec’s other retail spaces have attracted plenty of interested parties, but several potential business owners said they walked away because Chen kept changing his mind about terms, often seeking more money or repairs. […]

The newest renovation plans are on track to be considered by Monrovia’s Historic Preservation Commission and Planning Commission this month or November, according to Planning Manager Craig Jimenez.

Other problems include transformers that are too old to handle air-conditioning in the hotel’s rooms. And the parking lot doesn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It seems the China-based owner, Qinhan Chen, has made an effort to have hotel renovated with its history in mind. But the myriad other problems that have popped up during his stewardship makes one wonder whether he has the ability to ultimately do it. At the least, roadies probably will need more patience before they book a room there.

Architect Robert B. Stacy-Judd designed the Mayan-inspired building, which was built in 1925 on what turned out to be an early alignment of Route 66. The hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. A fitful restoration of the building began in 2000, which continues to this day.

(Image of the Aztec Hotel by Dan Barrett via Flickr)

5 thoughts on “Aztec Hotel may reopen next year

  1. Which came first, Frank Lloyd Wright’s California designs of the era or this place? Looks like the hotel even used the Wright building block methods, but just for the actual Mayan trim parts.

  2. I’m going to say something controversial but I feel that it must be said. The problems with the Aztec Hotel raise questions about whether certain types of foreign investors can be trusted to handle America’s historic, landmark properties responsibly, with sympathy & respect. The Aztec is dealing with a representative of a society wherein graft & corruption of all types play a bigger part in peoples’ everyday lives. You won’t turn a spade or shovel unless you proffer plenty payola to whatever petty bureaucrat that runs your fiefdom. And this crap is being foisted on us as those people use their investment money to seize influence in our country. I rather suspect that the Aztec would fare better under a different owner — and that the current problems would dissipate quickly.

    1. I would agree — except for the inconvenient fact the previous owner was an American, and the property arguably had WORSE problems with its operations. I’m deeply reluctant to paint an owner with an overly broad brush just because of his country of origin, for obvious reasons.

  3. @ideabook2014: R. Stacey-Judd’s Aztec motifs were roughly contemporaneous with F.Ll. Wright’s precast concrete textile-block houses but there is a crucial difference: Stacey-Judd’s ornamentation was purely decorative, while Wright’s textile-blocks were structural and reinforced by weaving steel rebar through and between the blocks. This was done as reinforcement against earthquakes.

  4. This place will always be a jinxed property. The sprits rule this place, not the greedy and soulless owners of past and present

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