The Dunbar Hotel, where jazz greats once performed, is back for an encore.
In a segregated nation, the Los Angeles hotel was the focal point for the African-American community, providing first-class accommodations and a stage for Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. Upon its 1928 opening, it hosted the first West Coast convention of the NAACP.
Over the years, the hotel fell into disrepair and was turned into apartments. Despite the conversion, the building continued on a steep decline.
Thomas Safran & Associates (TSA) and the Coalition for Responsible Community Development have worked to return the building to its former glory—this time as affordable seniors housing. The developers reduced the unit count from 73 SRO units to 40 comfortable apartments. They carefully preserved the building’s many historic features, including rehabilitating the lobby to recall its peak years. Modern requirements, including seismic strengthening, were also addressed.
To make an even bigger impact, the team acquired and rehabbed two adjacent apartment communities with 41 family units. As a result, the $29.9 million Dunbar Village project provides 81 new homes for residents earning no more than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), with 15 percent of the units at the hotel targeted to seniors at 30 percent of the AMI.
“It’s transformed the neighborhood,” says Jordan Pynes, TSA president. “It’s gone from one of the most troubled, difficult properties to a safe, clean place for residents to live.”