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Historic De Anza hotel in Calexico may have been irreparably damaged by quake

April 6, 2010 |  1:26 pm

hawaii.2010.04.04.224805 map The future of the historic De Anza Hotel in Calexico, Calif., remains in doubt because of damage sustained in the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck the U.S.-Mexico border region on Easter Sunday.

Built in 1931, the three-story hotel was once a favorite spot for Southern California business barons and the Hollywood set when they visited the desert and Baja California.

In recent years, the hotel has had financial problems and a series of owners. It is now being operated as a living space for low-income elderly people. About 110 residents were evacuated Sunday night when cracks appeared in the hotel ceiling, plaster fell to the floor and the statuary outside fell off their pedestals.

The city of Calexico's development director, Armando Villa, said that while the hotel is grandfathered in as an unreinforced masonry structure exempt from certain building codes, there are limits.

“What concerns us now is we're seeing a lot of stress marks that may or may not have to do with the structural integrity of the building," he said.

The building, just two blocks from the U.S. Mexico border, has been red-tagged, making it uninhabitable until further study. City officials are waiting for a structural engineering report to be completed later this week to determine if the building can be repaired and saved.

Meanwhile, hotel residents have been moved to a number of shelters throughout Imperial County.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in the county, which will free up state resources to aid the recovery effort.

The earthquake's epicenter was in Mexicali, Mexico, just across the border from Calexico. It has been blamed for at least two deaths and at least 230 injuries.

-- Tony Perry in Calexico, Calif.