Ambassador Site Breaks Ground
It's been nearly a year since the Ambassador Hotel was demolished. Now, groundbreaking on the new school complex that will be built on the historic hotel's remains finally took place Monday. (Above, the latest rendering of what the high school will look like.)
The L.A. Times writes:
The price tag, estimated at $309 million, has jumped more than 14% in recent months after the discovery of potentially explosive methane gas deposits beneath the site that will require an elaborate mitigation plan. And, unless staggering increases in construction costs that have persisted in Los Angeles abate, the final cost of the school could climb higher, district officials said.
Guests at Monday's ceremony, however, were not talking about money. It was a day of celebration and photo ops replete with golden shovels for tossing dirt. Speakers, including Councilmen Herb Wesson and Jose Huizar, repeatedly praised recently departed Supt. Roy Romer and school board members for shepherding the project forward despite preservation groups who fought to save the historic hotel.
"There could be no better memorial to my father than a living memorial that educates the children of this city," said an emotional Max Kennedy, speaking from a plateau of tightly packed dirt on the 24-acre construction site, overlooking the remains of buildings where Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.
Not much is left of the original hotel. And rumors are swirling that the LAUSD has canceled plans to preserve portions of the Cocoanut Grove and other remaining parts -- that the structures are beyond rehab.
But the LAUSD's most recent Ambassador Progress Report says preservation plans (well, of what little is left) are on going.
-- Incorporating the Embassy Ballroom Ceiling (above, left) into the school's library
-- "The historic Cocoanut Grove will be renovated with a complete structural retrofit and modern electrical, HVAC and technological systems to covert it for use as a new auditorium... Additionally, the lower level shopping arcade, including the Paul R. Williams-designed coffee shop, will be used as faculty and student lounges and cafeterias."
-- The Ambassador Hotel pylon sign (above, right) -- uncovered in the demolition after decades of existing under a coffin of concrete -- may be restored. "The District is working with expert advisors and the Historic Monitor to determine a feasible strategy for the preservation of this feature, including considerations for its use as a feature in the public park."
There you have it. Not much. A sad day for those of us who had held on to hope (well, until a year ago) that the hotel could be saved. But the Ambassador ship has now sailed. Let's now hope that the LAUSD can build this new educational center quickly and with no more cost overruns.