Last weekend, DTLA Rising broke the exciting news that the long-vacant Commercial Exchange building was purchased by NY-based hotel developer Sydell Group. As many of you read, we accurately called out that Sydell would likely convert the CommEx into their new trendy hostels concept called “Freehand.” Currently, there is already one in Miami that opened last summer and another one under construction in Chicago. Now it’s confirmed with a press release from Councilman Jose Huizar’s office that the CommEx will indeed become the third and largest Freehand location in the country.
The new Freehand Los Angeles will have about 200 rooms with both private and shared occupancy (up to 8 in a room). A rooftop pool and lounge will be added to the 13-story structure with amazing views of the downtown skyline. In addition, there will be a lobby living room and ground floor retail with a yet-to-be-determined restaurant and bar. Perhaps they can save the neon “Italian Kitchen” sign facing 8th Street and play off of that for the restaurant concept?
And speaking of neon signs, the Commercial Exchange neon sign attached to the building at the corner is apparently one of the tallest ones in LA and will be restored as part of the project!
One look at the Freehand website and you’ll see it’s obviously not some creepy hostel but definitely on the trendy/hip and modern side that will appeal to the budget conscious traveler, which is especially popular with foreign tourists from Europe and Asia. Freehand will expand the increasingly diverse range of lodging options for Downtown LA that will help make the area even more appealing to a wider range of visitors.
When Freehand Los Angeles opens hopefully in 2016 (if construction goes smoothly), expect to see an exciting reinvigorated and activated corner after decades and decades of sad decline.