downtown los angeles, historic core

Confirmed: Downtown LA’s Commercial Exchange Will Become Trendy “Freehand” Hostel

The long abandoned historic 1924 Commercial Exchange building will become the third and largest Freehand location in the country opening in 2016

The long abandoned historic 1924 Commercial Exchange building will become the third and largest Freehand location in the country opening in 2016

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.

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  1. This is great, DTLA has become one of the must see spots in LA and affordable accommodation for backpackers was really needed.

  2. Yes so great – I always see poor backpackers wandering around the Cecil going hmmm this is interesting… Now they’ll have nicer location and accommodations! The Gopher will have a renaissance :)

  3. CityRat says

    Trendy today … tomorrow a rundown SRO. Couldn’t these guys come up with something the market actually needs?

    • Lawrence says

      @CityRat – I’m pretty sure the city needs hotel rooms and places for visitors of all budgets to stay. Hostels are a preferred option for travelers from many countries save perhaps the U.S., which explains their scarcity here. Most European and Asian cities have a plethora of clean hostels where tourists can stay on a budget and a product of this type is sorely lacking in L.A. in general much less downtown. This will be a great addition to 8th Street.

  4. What a crime that was committed one morning in June when I woke up and discovered the view marred and etched in the brown brick..that no one noticed the criminal painting the graffitti “swarm” onto the fire escape and with what time it took that no one reported the crime!

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