Aztec Hotel of Monrovia faces June 5 deadline for finishing improvements

The owner of the Aztec Hotel in Monrovia, California, faces a June 5 deadline to finish improvements or he’ll have to do a lot more work on the historic Route 66 property.

Qin Han Chen bought the hotel at 311 W. Foothill Blvd. (aka Route 66) in 2012 after it was foreclosed. It had closed a year or two before that.

While Chen has made substantial repairs to the hotel — a new roof and redesigning the parking lot to make it handicapped-accessible — his replacing the doors with period-inappropriate ones caught the ire of the city because the property is a city landmark.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune laid out what Chen and the city face:

When the Historic Preservation Commission got wind of the period-inappropriate doors in 2017, it gave Chen two years to remove and replace them.

But Chen, who could not be reached for comment, appealed the commission’s decision to the City Council, which in September 2017 sided with him: He wouldn’t have to remove the interior doors as long as he agreed to tend to three other problems at the hotel. He was ordered to:

  • Repair all neon sign lighting.
  • Replace guestroom windows in public view from the south and east sides of the building.
  • Repair a collapsed parapet, a low protective wall along the edge of a roof.

Since then, only one requirement, repair of the neon sign lighting, has been checked off the list. […]

If Chen doesn’t meet the extended June 5 deadline for the three conditions, all 44 guestroom doors must be replaced with historically accurate doors by Dec. 5, Bermejo said.

Chen originally faced a March 5 deadline, but the city extended it to June 5.

At least one city official said he was optimistic the long-gestating restoration of the Aztec Hotel was “right on the precipice” of completion.

With luck, Route 66 enthusiasts might see the Aztec Hotel reopen to travelers before Christmas.

Architect Robert B. Stacy-Judd designed the Mayan-inspired building, 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.

(Image of the Aztec Hotel in Monrovia, California, by Steve Walser via Flickr)

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