Hollywood Flocked to This Hotel in Its Heyday. Now, an L.A. Developer Bets Deep-Pocketed Buyers Will Too.


It was the hot spot of its time: A 19-story, gently-curved slab of Midcentury Modernism. Its 1966 opening gala was emceed by Bob Hope with Walt Disney in attendance. Its ballroom hosted the Apollo 11 astronauts’ celebratory state dinner with President Richard Nixon. President Ronald Reagan stayed there so frequently that the hotel was dubbed the “Western White House.” Guests like Lucille Ball and Muhammad Ali would have been greeted by doormen in British Beefeater costumes as they arrived into the porte cochere.

Designed by Minoru Yamasaki, architect of New York’s original World Trade Center, the crescent-shaped Century Plaza Hotel reigned as Hollywood’s mecca for years before it lost some of its luster and required a makeover.

Now, Los Angeles real-estate developer Michael Rosenfeld is betting big on the hotel and its rich Hollywood history. As part of a $2.5 billion restoration and redevelopment project, his firm has turned the top floors of the iconic hotel into 63 high-end apartments for sale and built two new high-rise towers with an additional 268 units, designed by celebrated architecture firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

The opening of the new Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel, slated for the next few months—and the debut of the tower residences later this year—is expected to mark the culmination of the project’s roller-coaster, 13-year-long odyssey.