Jazz Age L.A. hotel reborn as a haven for pot
The Hotel Normandie, a stoic brick building weighing down a corner of Normandie Avenue and 6th Street, opened in the Roaring '20s as an elegant residence, promising in tasteful advertisements to "leave nothing to be desired by the most experienced and exacting."
Tuesday night, the hotel will host another grand opening, for a very different, experienced and exacting clientele: pot smokers.
The aging Koreatown edifice has been rechristened Dennis Peron's Normandie Hotel, and the late-night event was timed for April 20, the annual day of celebration for cannabis worshippers worldwide.
Peron, a hero to the marijuana movement, started the first dispensary in San Francisco and led the state's medical marijuana initiative. Now, he and a team of weed-loving friends hope to turn the 106-room Normandie into America's first pot-friendly hotel.
"It's really a logical step, a logical step. It's a big city. And they needed me down here. And I needed a change," said Peron, who believes marijuana is a deeper part of the culture in Los Angeles than in San Francisco. "It's the people. It's the numbers. It's the pop culture. It's skaters."
John Evangelista, a real estate investor who has known Peron since his San Francisco hippie days, bought the hotel in January and invited Peron to create a "pot-tel." "He has a certain following, a certain know-how, a certain energy and kind of vision," Evangelista said.
But like many marijuana business ventures, much about this one remains murky.
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--John Hoeffel in Mid-Wilshire
Richard Eastman, assistant manager of the Normandie Hotel, smokes a medical marijuana cigarette near the historic hotel's rooftop sign. Photo: ( Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times )