Thursday, November 30, 2006

AMBASSADOR UPDATE: The Cocoanut Grove to be Demolished As Well

So much for even the L.A. Unified School District's token attempt at preservation at the Ambassador site.

As you know, most of the Ambassador was torn down earlier this year, as the LAUSD plans to build a new school complex where the historic hotel once stood. But as a tiny consolation prize, the school district agreed to save the famed Cocoanut Grove and refashion it into the school's auditorium.

More recently, rumors started to swirl that plans to salvage the Cocoanut Grove was lip service. And anyone who's passed by the Ambassador site can see (above) that the old nightclub has already been mostly gutted.

Now, Franklin Avenue reader Kevin emails us about signs that have popped up in front of the Ambassador site:

Mike & Maria,

I was driving by the Ambassador tonight & saw a few of these attached to the fence.

It looks like there will be very little, if anything, reused of the Cocoanut Grove.

It does seem that there is the opportunity to give written comment on LAUSD's desire not to have to revise the EIR.

The "Notice of Preparation, Supplement to Final Environmental Impact Report" reads: The 2004 FEIR included mitigation measures for the adaptive reuse of the Cocoanut Grove as an auditorium subject to structural materials testing. Based upon extensive testing and evaluation by the District's structural engineer, consultants and staff, the District determined that it is technically infeasible to retain and reuse all of the features that were described in the 2004 FEIR due to their age and degraded and unstable condition. In view of the potential changes in the retention and reuse of the Cocoanut Grove, LAUSD is preparing a Supplement to the 2004 FEIR to document these changes.

Written comments and responses are being accepted through Dec. 15, via fax (213-893-7412), email (, or regular mail (Barbara Wu, LAUSD Office of Environmental Health and Safety, 1055 W. 7th St., Los Angeles, 90017).

I know what most of you are probably thinking: Yeah, well, if the building is unsound, then of course it should be torn down. But for those of us already stung by the decision to knock the Ambassador down, this just adds more salt to that wound.


Blogger jay at 35.5 said...

How am I not surprised they wwanted to tear the rest of the Grove down.. They need to just do it already and not be so dramatic about it. It sucks. The school district already made up its mind. I dont know why they are asking for comments now

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ain't that the truth. I never believed for one minute that the L.A.U.S.D. wanted to keep the Grove. This was nothing less than lip service. Asking for comments is a complete and total waste of time.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I became incredibly interested in the Ambassador Hotel after I saw the movie "Bobby". As soon as my sister and I got home from the movie, we immediately googled the hotel, and to our horror, we discovered that the hotel had been demolished. I can't fathom the complete ignorance of people wanting to destroy such a historical building. I am incredibly sad at the loss of the Ambassador and now to learn that the Grove will not even be spared is literally making me sick to my stomach.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look and learn was catering to political correctness results in!! Yes, it is sickening to the stomach!! Loss of culture and history...which thing to go next?

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so miss seeing this hotel :( I hate our country for its careless distruction.

4:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the district intended on saving the cocoanut grove. saying that it is just lip service is just being naive and ill-informed. i agree asking for comments is stupid, but so are a lot of laws governing our everyday lives; asking for comments is just another rule that has to be followed.

1:47 PM  
Blogger jay at 35.5 said...

Its not being naive or uniformed. I am well informed. your that one that is not since you choose to make those comments. ANd the comments being asked is a rhetorical question. Its me being sarcastic. Hotel is done what is there left to be done? Nothing.. A part of history has been destroyed.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

conditions change and new information is acquired. calling it lip service is being ill informed and naive...or perhaps just lazy...too lazy to see anyone else's perspective or understand the information that's out there.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quit all your whinning. The Hotel and Grove were death traps. Its a wonder they didnt fall down and kill soneone already. Just some seismic luck. Do you want YOUR kids in those pieces of shit buildings all day? Simply not worth the money to save them, and I didnt see anyone rushing forward to spend private money. The district tried everything they could to save them, just no real way to do it and still use them as a school. Thats the breaks.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, that is the breaks. Could you say specifically, what did the L.A.U.S.D. do to try to save the Ambassador? Have you been through the Ambassador to know for certain that it was a "Deathtrap"? I would be interested in knowing.

4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i personally have and that place was a deathtrap and the Cocoanut Grove still is. after a rain, the hotel would pour inside for days afterward. anyone who took a tour during its last days could verify that. i think in this blog's history, there is a link to someone's personal photos of the last tour of the hotel, and i remember one paticular photo was extremely stark: a graveyard of 44 gallon trashcans set amidst fungus ridden carpet. even the la times featured a picture of the carpet growing mushrooms. also, people should talk to former employees of the hotel who can also verify that the hotel owes a lot of its demise to years of poor management and then the unfortunate event of 1968.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it was only a deathtrap because no one took care of it at the end...

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really, that is interesting that you were able to take a tour. My own feeling is that the people who owned the Ambassador when ti closed thought that it would be a cash cow for them because of all the famous people that stayed there. The hotel did start to go downhill before Robert Kennedy was assassinated there and from what soem had said, it became more of a tourist site in that people wanted to see the Embassy Ballroom as well as the Kitchen Pantry. I woudl like to see a hotel company, like Ritz-Carlton, build a new Ambassador that pays tribute to the old one. This has been done at places like the Willard and Mayflower Hotels in Washington, D.C. Ritz-Carlton has done a first rate job with the Huntington Hotel in Pasedena. There has not been anyone who has taken a neutral stand on this idea. People have been either for it or against it.

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You're right, that is the breaks. Could you say specifically, what did the L.A.U.S.D. do to try to save the Ambassador?"

MANY Studies were done. They all said the same thing. It became a death trap the day it was built. It is literally a miracle that it stood as long as it did. The WORST construction and materials you could imagine. Unsalvagable.

"Have you been through the Ambassador to know for certain that it was a "Deathtrap"? "

YEP. The Grove too. Same deal as the hotel.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a great deal of knowledge about the Ambassador. If you don't mind my asking, when did you take the tour? People have really strong feelings about the Ambassador and feel like the L.A.U.S.D. could have done more to salvage it. I think you can make a good argument that the L.A.U.S.D. tried to see what they could salvage and you could make a good argument that they wanted to tear down the Ambassador all along and just went through the motion with having studies done. When it comes to the Ambassador you are either on the side of the L.A.U.S.D. or you are not. There is no middle ground. Would you agree?

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think a middle ground could be achieved if people who wanted to save the hotel donated their time and efforts to builindg an archive of stories and photos and recordings and memorabilia and tried working with the district to find some sort of compromise on an archive. although the building itself is gone, it would do everyone a greater disservice if the memory faded away as well.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you. You wonder if this was not a case of the irrestible force (The L.A.U.S.D.) against the imovable object (People who have the strong feelings about the Ambassador that they have). Neither side willing to budge. This is one reason why I feel so strongly about a new Ambassador being built and having a museum being built in the hotel that pays tribute to the old one. That's what they did when the Willard Hotel was restored re-opened and the Mayflower Hotel restored in Washington, D.C.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you don't mind my asking, when did you take the tour? "

Many time in the past few years.

"When it comes to the Ambassador you are either on the side of the L.A.U.S.D. or you are not. There is no middle ground. Would you agree?"

I work on may project where historic buildings are saved. They turn out great. here, there was no middle ground.

You need to understanding something about the Ambassador and Grove - they were unsavable. Total garbage construction. Not even remotely salvagable. Unfit for human habitation. Death traps that just hadn't falled down for some reason. Not a maintanence issue - they were time-bombs the day they were built, they just didnt implode yet. Clear?

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed this exchange of thoughts and views. You wonder if a company like Ritz-Carlton had purchased the Ambassador like they did the Huntington in Pasedena that things might have turned out different. They have poured major bucks into the Huntington and have made it a huge success. If I am not mistaken, and if there is someone out there with more knowledge than me, please respond, when Ritz-Carlton purchased the Huntington, they closed it down and re-did everything. I have always been in favor of Ritz-Carlton or Renissance building a new Ambassador that does look like the old one and have a museum in it that pays tribute to the old one. That is why I think Ritz-Carlton would be in an ideal company to undertake such a project.

4:57 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

If the Ambassador was so shoddily constructed, how did it hold together for for eighty-five years (fifteen of them with virtually no maintenance or repair)? "For some reason" it hadn't fallen apart? If you build something, and it survives for eighty-five years (the final fifteen unmaintenanced and throw in an earthquake), that's more than "luck," and it's not just "for some reason." That's like saying the Beatles were successful "for some reason." Sorry, but the "deathtrap the day it was built" thing just doesn't work for me. If something is TRULY a doesn't stick around for eighty-five years, especially not with the kind of heavy human traffic it had in its heyday (not to mention the scores of film crews who roamed her halls for years, when the hotel was in its worst condition). There would have been problems long ago, back when the hotel was full of people. And a building that was built as a deathtrap doesn't just lose some stucco during an earthquake - if there's anything that's going to topple a shoddily-constructed building, it's an earthquake!!! I do agree that there were definitely issues in the hotel's final years of operation as a hotel that led to its demise - a world-famous, historically important hotel doesn't go belly-up for no reason - but saying they were beyond saving is pushing it, in my opinion. Hell, if you can restore Grey Gardens, you can restore anything. My buddy's 1970s house was shoddily built, and it's falling apart - but it's only been thirty-six years, and three families. For the Ambassador, it's been eighty-five years, and who knows how many thousands upon thousands of people. Old buildings get holes in the roof. fifteen years of no one fixing holes (on an 80+ year-old building) and you're crazy to think the place isn't going to be pouring after a rain. I just feel like if it had really been "a deathtrap the day it was built," it wouldn't have lasted as long as it did, and it probably would have fallen over after five years of no one looking after it, let alone fifteen.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

of course bob is the expert. listen to bob! i'm sure he knows what he's talking about and he's seen it with his own eyes. if he hasn't seen it and knows nothing about engineering and construction, then he's just full of hot air. bob should run for public office!

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

um, how much about engineering do I need to know to think that a building that has weathered that kind of traffic for eighty-five uears (and an earthquake) can't be all bad? I mean, if you build a building crappily, aren't those precisely the type of conditions that would expose the terrible construction for what it was?
I've been to the Ambassador quite a bit, and I never felt unsafe there (OK, well, some rooms of Rincon bungalow were a touch unsettling). I have a hard time believing that the Ambassador just "beat the odds" - for eighty-five years.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous bob said...

And anyway, it's also difficult for me to believe that with today's technology, any building is beyond saving.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bob has my vote for mayor of los angeles!

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bob - you're a fucking idiot, which maked posting on the internet a perfect place for you. You would make a good mayor or better yet, LAUSD school board member. What engineering school did you say you attended?

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bob - you're a fucking idiot, which makes posting on the internet a perfect place for you. You would make a good mayor or better yet, LAUSD school board member. What engineering school did you say you attended?ojy

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no reason to use that type of vulgar language. If you want to disagree with someone that is all well and good, but leave that type of language at home. Everyone is entitled to feel whatever way they want to. From the person who wants to see a new Ambassador built to Bob to anyone. Many old building have been restored that have been in bad shape and Bob felt that the Ambassador could be as well.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Heavens knows there could be only one viewpoint. Hey, a doctor told my wife and I there was "NO CHANCE" of our having a child without all sorts of expensive shots for my wife and about a year's worth of fertility treatment. A month later, we were shots, no therapy. Our son will be a year old this March, and is doing fine (apart from having an F-ing idiot for a father). Yet neither my wife or I went to medical school! Yes, our doctor's thirty-plus years of experience and training in his field really paid off. I'm sure one day, yours will too, Lord of All Engineers.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Besides, earlier, you said: "not worth the money to save them." (Ninth post.) OK, so they're saveable, but to you, not worth the money it would cost. Well, that's all I'm getting at. You can save any building with the right amount of money. To you, the Ambassador just wasn't worth it. I wonder if the Huntington, built by the same folks about ten years earlier and VERY similar to the Ambassador, is riding a similar wave of "seismic luck"? Why isn't Mother Nature listening to the experts and showing these deathtraps who's boss?

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I'm a little late on this blog. So just how many times have your been at the Ambassador Site since Donald Trump sold it? Do you understand the lack of building codes in the 20's? Do you understand inconsistent concrete strengths? Just what exactly did you do at the Hotel to make you such an expert? Doesn't sound like much to me.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I simply don't know what to say. Penn Station was destroyed by a private enterprise in an era which didn't know better, but this is 2007! and what's worse, a GOVERNMENT AGENCY is aiding and abetting in the destruction of History, and not just ANY agency, but one which claims to educate our future generation! How can we educate the future generations if we shall have nothing left to see- no ghosts, no structures, no living legacy? The Ambassador was more than just a hotel, more than just a building... it encompassed almost every sphere of what made LA great. Its not only a damn shame, but a JUDGEMENT on our generation which shall live on as a stain... we shall NEVER live it down. We shall ever be regarded by our progeny as the worst of ignoramuses for this flagrantly heinous and ignorant act. SHAME on the LAUSD! This act makes its very existence a hypocrisy!!

9:55 PM  
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