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The Montecito

On the corner of Franklin and Cherokee sits “10 stories of luxury and comfort”: the Montecito.

Ahead of the residential hotel’s 1931 grand opening, reservations were accepted to rent the 79 furnished units, a mix of singles ($90) and doubles ($175). Amenities included subterranean garage, 24-hour service, Hollywood views—and eventually a commissary, despite one opposing councilman’s argument that residents were too “lazy” to go to the market.

The Mayan-influenced Art Deco building, designed by Marcus P. Miller (future architect of the Dark Room camera shop on Wilshire), was also fire and earthquake proof.

In its early years, the Montecito was home to Hollywood up-and-comers Ronald Reagan, Montgomery Clift, George C. Scott, Geraldine Page, Ben Vereen, and Gene Hackman. The switchboard operator was kept busy fielding calls from the studios, which she’d patch through to the poolside telephone so sunbathing actors didn’t miss a potential big break.

By the 1970s, Montecito’s golden age had tarnished, as the landmark fell into disrepair inside and out. The Italian black marble facings had been “hacked to shards by street kids,” reported the Los Angeles Times.

In 1984, the owner received grants for nearly half of the $8 million renovation that restored the Montecito—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—and converted it into low-income senior living.

And soon, there will be even more units: In July 2019, the LA City Planning Commission approved plans for Montecito II, an adjacent six-story affordable housing development.

Despite best efforts of residents to preserve their garden and its 27 trees, the $41 million project is going forward, according to a September 2021 housing department report recommending the developer’s application for millions in tax-exempt bonds and tax credits.


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