We’ve been sharing a lot of buildings that are vacant and beautiful and in need of help. These range from the treasure on Hollywood and Wilton to the ghost on Hollywood and Highland to the sadly now gone Culver City painted building. Now, let’s talk about something a little different: a building that is part successful, part unsuccessful, and in major need of a rethinking in how it handles itself.
The building in question 5849 Sunset Blvd, a three story building built in 1924, home to a retail space, a moderately successful bar, and 78 bachelor apartments. So, where to begin…Let’s go with the retail space, which is currently empty. For the past few years, it has been host to various failed businesses, including The Scooter Girl, a convenience store/marijuana dispenser, and–most recently–an extremely silly womenswear retailer named Kami Shadé, who sold things like “Party Rock Silver Metallic Leggings” and “Whispering Red Cape Wing Knit Tunic Top Shirt Blouse.” As you can tell, there isn’t much innovation happening as far as retail pursuits and, really, doesn’t even need to be: they’re right next to the highway, across from Sunset and Bronson Studios, and inhabit the gap between Little Armenia and Hollywood proper. It’s a dead zone. But, those are excuses: they are just a block from legitimate cool eateries Delancey and The Mission Cantina, two street lights South of Franklin Village, along with–I don’t know–the bar directly to the left of it.
The bar is a nice little dive called The Bar and has been around for a few years, always attracting a trendy crowd and waxing and waning in actual coolness. It’s not a bad spot and by no means is unsuccessful, as its come from the people behind Sunset and Vine’s Magnolia and Santa Monica’s Chloe. The place is always packed on the weekend and always has events happening on weeknights. Shit: I even had my birthday there four years ago! It’s a legitimate little bar that seems to have literally nothing going on around it, which is very weird.
One of the biggest problems is the huge monster of nothing above it: the 78 bachelor apartments. The place is formerly the majorly sketchy St. Moritz Hotel, whose sign, silly tree paintings, rock walls, and unkempt façade still remain as ghosts from its non-heyday. The building is not for sale currently, as LoopNet.com says along with the multiple “FOR RENT” signs, which are begging small apartment hunters in to steal one of their 78 bachelor apartments (which look very okay, according to this a-few-years-old Trimas sale listing).
Why is the apartment complex and retail space such failures, while their bar is booming? No idea. What is easy to tell is that the two are definitely in desperate need of some sort of makeover or rethinking, to make them both sexy and clean. Of course, the area surrounding can seem a little sketchy, the Bronson between Sunset and Franklin corridor being a unkindly at points; however, according to the LA Crime Map, it’s just a little rough around the edges (and the two vacant lots to the right and to the left of the building don’t help).
So, what to do with this building? It’d be a shame to tear it down, especially considering 1/3 of the intended spaces is doing quite. One thing I’ve always felt about this place since the day I noticed it in 2008 is that the St. Moritz desperately needs to be turned into a mid-price ranged boutique hotel. Sure, sure, sure: this is a huge risk because it’s not buddied up directly to Delancey/Mission nor is it directly adjacent to Franklin Village proper and, yes, I am sure people have thought about it (considering this not-followed-up 2009 Curbed article, including many thoughts on the area). But, a few signs of life in the neighborhood are giving some hope: to the West, the new Emerson College building on Gordon and Sunset is definitely being built and, to the East, that fabled Sunset and Western Target may actually become a reality. This may be a perfect time to start work on a boutique hotel! Someone bring a Palihotel to this part of town ASAP!!
Beyond that, they really should just renovate the building inside and out, giving its exterior a facelift and–likely–it’s interior. As it looks now, it’s just various shades of doodie brown with a decaying roof. Why not have someone do a mural on the East facing side? What prime time visual real estate! Some deep pocketed apartment company needs to get in there and do a clean sweep because, between the coming Emerson kids and Franklin Village runoff, you would certainly be able to rent the units but definitely not in the state it’s in now. The place could also be turned into some sweet offices, possibly for a small production company. Or, perhaps, the 78 bachelors could converted to nice little gym or spa or studio space for dancers, performers, musicians, and other like persons to rent out.
Moreover, a café/coffee shop/tea house/boutique market (a la, The Oaks Gourmet–but not as fancy) needs to be popped into the retail space, which will have people running over. What about putting in a small restaurant, like a tiny 101 Coffee Shop, into the space? That could be the perfect thing to get morning, daytime, and late night customers in there. What works about The Bar is that it is a cozy nighttime destination: the other retail space needs to become a daytime or late night destination. So, bringing it back, the above apartments must be a place for you to “relax when you aren’t at either.” This is why the boutique hotel idea would be best and, beyond that, adding a restaurant and a competitive lounge/bar within the second floor of the hotel could encourage patrons to roam from The Bar to hotel spots to the coffee shop.
Time will tell what will happen to 5849 Sunset Blvd, which very well could be nothing: it’s not as handsome as the other buildings we’ve covered and is not in a place that is demanding cool shit within it yet. That said, the area has great potential and could be a nice satellite micro-hood of chic. Fingers crossed on this one, guys.