Southern California -- this just in

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Despite recession, downtown L.A. hotels going upscale

May 1, 2010 |  9:29 pm

Maybe the recession is really and truly over now. After all, a thousand and one hotel rooms have just bloomed in downtown Los Angeles amid the Kings and conventioneers.

I'm talking about the once-desolate territory just north of interstate 10 and east of California 110, where the Los Angeles Convention Center is neighbored by Staples Center (opened 1999), the 7,100-seat Nokia Theatre (opened 2007) and the rest of the L.A. Live "sports and entertainment district." Officially, the area is called South Park, and the entertainment company AEG has spent about $2.5 billion building the L.A. Live sports and entertainment complex here.

Besides the Staples and Nokia venues, AEG has peopled L.A. Live with more than a dozen restaurants, bars and nightclubs. In 2008 came the Grammy Museum. In October 2009 came the 14 movie screens of Regal Cinemas. Then in mid-February came a J.W. Marriott Hotel (878 rooms). And finally in early April came the last big piece of the puzzle—a Ritz-Carlton (123 rooms).

That's a lot of new glitter in a precinct previously known best for grit and a greasy spoon that's always open. (That would be the Original Pantry restaurant, serving diners in the wee hours since 1924.) Now, whether it's to see athletes in motion, performers on stage or your regional marketing director at a trade show, you're likely to land in this neighborhood before long.

Read the full story here.

--Christopher Reynolds, Times travel writer.

Photo: (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)