Dunbar Hotel restoration to offer affordable housing to families, seniors


The dust is flying, and for residents around the historic Dunbar Hotel, it is music to their ears.

Built in 1928, the Dunbar became a hub for an emerging middle class. It became a destination for traveling African Americans who sought lodging and entertainment but were barred from white establishments. The guests included all the greats.

"Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie," said Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry. "The sad part was they stayed here because they weren't allowed to stay in other hotels."

Perry is spearheading a rebirth for this block, funded significantly with federal stimulus dollars. Dunbar Village will provide affordable family housing next door and seniors will occupy the restored hotel.

A similar project was tried before. A reopening in the 1990s was trumpeted as a new start, but officials say it was mismanaged and fell into disrepair. The open air atrium was covered. The new developer, Thomas Safran & Associates, is opening it up again to restore sightlines and the atmosphere.

More important for neighbors, there is an array of programs for families that include after school programs and tutoring.

Workers were also hired from the area.

When completed, there will be 41 units - one bedroom apartments - with rent starting at $448 per month.

Interested seniors can start signing up on Aug. 20. Tenants will be selected by lottery. Neighbors on Central Avenue already feel lucky.

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