Luxe City Center Hotel in downtown Los Angeles has completed a $10 million renovation that began more than two years ago.

The boutique hotel had been a Holiday Inn since it was built in 1965. The renovation project gutted the building and reconfigured space to allow for executive suites and loft-like guestrooms.

John Kelly, general manager at Luxe City Center, said the hotel now fills a niche for the neighborhood.

“One of the things that was missing close to the convention center was the boutique element,” he said.

The 178-room hotel sits across the street from L.A. Live and the Los Angeles Convention Center at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Figueroa Street.

As a Holiday Inn, the average room rate for the hotel was about $140 a night. Now, that rate has doubled.

The hotel’s ownership group, Emerik Hotel Corp. in downtown Los Angeles, funded the renovation.

“It was private equity money,” Kelly said. “No subsidy from the city, no occupancy tax break of any kind – purely an entrepreneurial project.”

The hotel has little in the way of competition downtown in the boutique hotel category, but that could change. Last week, city officials announced a request for proposals from private developers to build a four-star or boutique hotel on city-owned parcels across from the convention center at the corner of Pico Boulevard and Figueroa Street. The idea is that additional hotel rooms downtown would entice organizations to book large conventions that now go to other cities instead.

Kelly agrees that downtown needs more hotels to serve the convention center, but he doesn’t think the hotel at Pico and Figueroa should get any subsidies or tax breaks from the city.

“It creates an unfair playing field,” he said. “If demand is there in a free-market economy to build a hotel, then it will be built. We were capable of doing it and can see that the model works, so why should the city be burdened with this private development?”

Revolving Doors

Italian restaurant chain Il Fornaio will close its Santa Monica location before next summer. Del Frisco’s Grille, a Southlake, Texas, chain, will open in its place. … Hollywood hospitality and entertainment company Muse Lifestyle Group will open Sound Nightclub at 1642 N. Las Palmas Ave. later this month. The 8,000-square-foot space will house two bars and a walk-up kitchen. … New York jewelry company David Webb Jewelry moved its L.A. flagship boutique last month after 15 years inside the Beverly Wilshire Hotel to Brighton Way in Beverly Hills. … Lucinda Ellery Consultancy, a London-based hair salon that specializes in hair loss treatment for women, opened its first U.S. location in Beverly Hills last month. … Contemporary Swedish clothing retailer H&M opened a store at Puente Hills Mall in the City of Industry earlier this month. … British outdoor furniture company Gloster Furniture Inc. opened a showroom on Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood last month. … Lisa Nativo, Jaclyn Kolsby and Jessica Stambach launched Nonna’s Kitchenette, an Italian-themed food truck company in Los Angeles, earlier this month. The trio made a name for themselves competing on Food Network TV series “Great Food Truck Race.” … Venices’ Pitfire Artisan Pizza will open a restaurant in Manhattan Beach before the end of the year. … Gardena mattress retailer Sit ’n Sleep opened a 12,800-square-foot showroom in Commerce last month, bringing the chain’s total number of showrooms to 28.

At Your Service

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles has named Wanda Chan general manager. Chan came to the downtown L.A. hotel with more than 30 years of experience in the hotel industry. Before joining Millennium Biltmore, Chan spent two years as general manager at One UN New York, where she oversaw a $30 million renovation and rebranding. … Manhattan Beach restaurant Strand House has named Michael Morrisette general manager. Morrisette has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He formerly worked at French restaurant Melisse and at downtown L.A. catering and event firm Savore Cuisine & Events. Eric Babajko, former floor manager at Strand House, has been promoted to assistant general manager. … Seasons 52, a restaurant chain owned by Darden Restaurants Inc. in Orlando, Fla., has named Jessica Koine opening executive chef at its Century City location, which will debut Nov. 26. Koine will work in partnership with corporate executive chef Clifford Pleau to develop the restaurant’s seasonal menu. She formerly worked as kitchen manager and event coordinator at King’s Fish House in Long Beach. Seasons 52 also named Monica Challingsworth field sales manager at the Century City location. … Mirabelle Restaurant has named Drew Ison executive chef. Ison brings almost 10 years of experience to the Sunset Strip establishment.

Staff reporter Bethany Firnhaber can be reached at or (323)549-5225, ext. 235.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.