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Stay on Main: What’s next for the Cecil Hotel?

Image of the Hotel Cecil from the Netflix documentary Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.
An image of the Cecil Hotel. Pic credit: Netflix

As revealed at the end of Netflix’s latest true crime story Crime Scene: The Vanishing at Cecil Hotel, the hotel where Elisa Lam’s body was found closed its doors in 2017. However, it will be reopening in the future as former hotel manager Amy Price shared at the end of the documentary.

The hotel was purchased by Richard Born who “co-owns the largest portfolio of independent hotels in New York” with 28 properties and 5,000 rooms.

In the true crime series, Price went on to share that “a determination has been reached that half of the hotel is going to be made into low-income housing” while the other half will continue to be rebranded as a luxury hotel. 

This revolution was painted over to be a happy ending for the social conditions plaguing downtown Los Angeles as Price went on to discuss how she hopes the hotel will be a “showstopper” and “talked about in a positive way.”

However, this is simply mimicking the rebrand that Price was involved with back in 2011 when the Cecil Hotel was renamed as Stay at Main.

What was Stay at Main?

Located around the corner from one of the most dangerous districts in the country, the Cecil Hotel has had a long history of suicides and murders. Serial Killers Richard “Night Stalker” Ramirez and Jack Unterweger previously stayed at the hotel. 

During Crime Scene, a former resident shared that the first six floors of the hotel are the “safest” as the top floors have a higher risk of danger. Assumingly, the top floors are less frequented by incoming guests, lobby visitors, and staff. They also take longer to reach in the case of an emergency. 

Due to this common perception, Cecil Hotel found itself being rebranded as Stay on Main and implementing small changes to modernize the building. They added a separate door for Stay on Main guests and refurbished the lobby area.

From then on, low-income residential guests stayed on the top floors and visitors stayed on the bottom. This created a false sense of comfort and buried the long history of the Cecil Hotel to newcomers. 

In Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, the hotel was shown to have a grandeur and contemporary lobby to initially welcome its guests. However, the moment the guests exited the elevator towards their room, they were met with an outdated hallway and a small, dingy room. 

Mike and Sabina Baugh, a couple interviewed on the documentary shared that when they booked their inclusive trip to Los Angeles, Stay at Main was where they were dropped off. After arriving at their room, they convinced themselves to stay under the guise that they “were only going to sleep and shower” there.

There are public Yelp reviews for the hotel calling it “basically a homeless shelter” and pointing out its general lack of cleanliness and “itchy bedding.” 

Echoed consistently is the visitor’s lack of awareness surrounding the hotel’s history. One reviewer wrote, “After the second night I felt a presence in my room and heard water dripping from the ceiling. I didn’t know the history of this hotel since I yelped the ratings (which I probably should have done first).” 

Another shared, “I heard yelling and screaming outside. Someone is now yelling for police! Police! I also did research online. The frigging place has had murders and suicides and in 2013 they found a dead girl in the water supply tank [Elisa Lam] and the place is supposedly haunted.”

One shared that the hotel had a strange smell and a “dark feeling.” 

What’s next?

Announced two years after the closure of Stay On Main, the new hotel is expected to open as soon as October 2021. According to LA Curbed, the new owners are working with Skid Row Housing Trust to ensure that their new ideas incorporate the hotel’s surrounding community. 

The hotel is hoping to have 291 single-resident rooms reserved for people who make between 30-60% below the area’s median income, continuing Cecil Hotel’s legacy of serving disadvantaged individuals.

In contrast to this initiative, the documentary stated that the owners plan to put a bar and a “wading pool” on the rooftop to make it function as a luxury hotel. Some would say it’s another gentrified proposal to disguise the hotel’s seedy history.

Only time will tell if history will repeat itself or if Simon Baron Development will finally get it right this time.

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at Cecil Hotel is available for streaming on Netflix.

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