It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places back in 1978. It is also a locally landmarked building (HL#10), receiving its designation in 2003.
The Aztec Hotel, a local icon of quirky appearance since it opened on September 6, 1925, was designed by Robert Stacy-Judd in a Mayan Revival style of architecture. The 44-room hotel, once the most elegant hotel in Monrovia, has been turning the heads of all who have driven by it on Route 66 for the past 87 years.
But the hotel has seen better days. Inside and out the once glamorous structure is only a shadow of its former self. But an ambitious plan to return the property to profitability has excited preservationists and city leaders alike. So it was under this sense of anticipation that interested parties gathered at the hotel this past Tuesday evening, May 29, 2012, at 7:00 p.m.
The purpose of the meeting was to provide specific information for the Historic Preservation Commission as they will provide oversight for some of the proposed changes. Besides the Commissioners there were about 25 others in attendance, including members of the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group and city personnel.
After guests had an opportunity to tour the areas where changes would be made, Craig Jimenez, the Planning Department Manager, outlined 12 major items to be addressed in the first phase of implementation. Among them are revamping the restrooms and providing ADA (American Disabilities Act) access, completely updating electrical and plumbing systems, and remodeling the restaurant and commercial spaces.
The staff within the planning division has identified three principles that will guide the execution of the proposed plan:
- Emphasize the preservation and restoration of the Aztec Hotel.
- Promote long-term economic viability of the property.
- Identify and permit uses that will be compatible and respectful of the neighborhood.
The changes will take place in three phases. The first phase will be to enable the restaurant to once again become operational and to secure tenants for the commercial spaces facing Foothill Boulevard. In addition, electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems will be updated as well as addressing the condition of the roof. Phase two will focus on restoring the exterior façade and increasing the number of parking spaces for the hotel as well as seeking to upgrade the clientele. The third phase will include projects as the need arises.
Audience members expressed concerns about proposed can lights in the lobby, saving/restoring the murals and artwork, and overall retaining the historic elements that have made the hotel so distinctive.
But by the end of the evening the general consensus of the proposed changes was favorable and most people were delighted that the condition of the structure would be improved without sacrificing the hotel’s iconic character. Commissioners Donna Baker, Penny Zuk, and Jimi Hendrix were designated as a subcommittee to review those areas under the purview of the Commission. The meeting adjourned as the Commissioners voted to accept the proposed plan.