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LOS ANGELES-A Calabasas-based partnership called the Buxbaum Group plans to convert the 463-room, 100-year-old Alexandria Hotel Downtown into work force housing. The new owner paid about $30 million for the property, which in its heyday was known as one of the places that presidents and celebrities stayed when visiting Los Angeles.

The renovation of the Alexandria is expected to take about two years and cost $14 million, according to Scott Ruscyk, the head of business affairs for the Buxbaum Group, which is a turnaround investment group that is headed by Paul Buxbaum. Ruscyk says that the restoration of the hotel at 501 S. Spring St. will “renovate the rundown structure into affordable housing for workers in Downtown Los Angeles.”

After the transformation, the hotel will be geared toward “housing for working men and women who can’t afford to pay high rents,” Ruscyk says. The Alexandria has been operating for some time as a single room occupancy hotel, catering to poor and elderly tenants.

Paul Buxbaum acquired the property together with Ruben Islas and Jules Arthur of the Amerland Group of San Diego, co-general partners of Alexandria Housing Partners LP, the limited partnership that purchased the hotel. The $30-million acquisition price was financed using tax-exempt bonds issued by the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency.

Buxbaum entered into a purchase contract in May 2005 and shortly afterward brought in the Amerland Group, which specializes in affordable housing transactions. Those collaborating on the deal included ARCS Commercial Mortgage, East West Bank, the Column Financial division of Credit Suisse, Fannie Mae and the CRA.

Ruscyk notes that getting to closing on the property took over 14 months, several hearings before the CRA and the Los Angeles City Council, scores of meetings and conference calls, and “thousands of sheets of paper.” Renovation of the hotel will replace wiring, plumbing, carpeting and paint, and will add kitchenettes and ceiling fans in each of the newly refurbished studio and one-bedroom apartments.

Other improvements will include a business center, a community room and fitness center and a diner that will serve discounted meals to tenants. Apartments will be available to households with incomes of 60% or less of the area median income for Los Angeles County. The completed units are expected to rent for $600 to $700 a month, including utilities.

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