News Flash!!! February 23, 2008

O C Register Story Below

Dear Friends – This just came out last night and is in the Orange County Register’s online edition. It is a really interesting story by Christa Woodall on Mr. Udvar-Hazy’s sad new plan for the historic Coast Inn and Boom Boom Room. Read the story, and please give us your feedback. Email what you think of his and his architect’s plans. Would love to put them on our SAVE the Boom!!! blog:

email your reactions to:

One thing is crystal clear in this article, Messrs. Udvar-Hazy and Skenderian clearly have thumbed their noses at the 6,000 signers of our SAVE the BOOM!!! petitions and all of our other supporters across California and the U.S. They have announced among other things, that they will not have any kind of bar or restaurant where the Boom resided for 61 years. The landmark Boom Boom Room was the oldest gay bar in the western United States. This is a major reversal from the plans that Mr. Udvar-Hazy submitted to the city one year ago.

Sure there will be lots more on this late breaking development, stay tuned.

Thank you for all of your help and support!

Best regards,
Fred Karger

RESTORING COAST INN: Coast Inn owner Steven Udvar-Hazy is moving ahead with plans to restore the hotel to an earlier, retro look, as seen in this 1954 photograph. The inn’s building was home to landmark gay bar The Boom Boom Room until it closed Labor Day 2007.

Friday, February 22, 2008
Boom Boom property’s future comes into focus
Owner pulls land from market, plans to restore inn and add art gallery, deli.
The Orange County RegisterRESTORING COAST INN: Coast Inn owner Steven Udvar-Hazy is moving ahead with plans to restore the hotel to an earlier, retro look, as seen in this 1954 photograph. The inn’s building was home to landmark gay bar The Boom Boom Room until it closed Labor Day 2007.
*COURTESY OF MORRIS SKENDERIAN AND ASSOCIATESThe owner of the building that housed the Boom Boom Room, the iconic bar hugely popular with the gay community in Laguna Beach, has announced plans to renovate the structure.
The proposal all but dashes the hopes of Boom Boom Room supporters and essentially quashes the idea that somehow the facility would remain at its existing location.
Owner Steven Udvar-Hazy pulled the property from the market on Feb. 1, said real estate agent Joseph Smith.
Hazy bought the property in April 2005, planning to make it a boutique hotel. In the face of strong opposition from the gay community, the three properties went up for sale with an asking price of $20 million.
The Boom Boom Room, which is considered by some to be the oldest gay bar in the western United States, was among the last gay landmarks left standing after the closures of icons like the Little Shrimp and Woody’s.
The Boom served its final round of drinks on Labor Day 2007. Owners Patrick O’Loughlin and James Marchese opted to close the bar despite Hazy’s offer of an extended, month-to-month lease.
Activist Fred Karger, who continues to work toward reviving the bar, said he’s hopeful that Hazy might reconsider his plans and donate the property to the gay community or reduce his asking price.
If the project advances, it will mark another step toward the end of an era for the gay community, which has long looked to Laguna Beach as a gathering place.
“There’s so much history that we’re not prepared to walk away from,” Karger said. “There’s a tremendous amount of gay money out there that I’m hoping to tap to take over his property, but in the meantime, I’ll do everything in my power to hold onto what was ours for 61 years.”
At the core of Hazy’s plan for the property is a historically restored Coast Inn, said architect Morris Skenderian.
“We’re trying to preserve the building,” Skenderian said. “We’re trying to restore it back to what it looked like in the early 40s, so we’re gathering all sorts of historical photographs.”
The Spanish-style exterior would be similar to what’s there now, with the addition of arches and balconies to the building’s entrance as it had been before a ’60s-era fire.
Within the restored façade, many of the hotel’s 20 to 25 rooms would be combined to create fewer but more spacious rooms, Skenderian said. The building would be brought into compliance with the ADA with the addition of ramps and elevators.
The plans will try to incorporate a spa for the hotel guests and a little workout area, bringing it up to the current market standard for oceanfront property. A food facility within the hotel has been considered, but Skenderian said it is likely to be eliminated.
“Right now it’s so dilapidated in there and there’s so much work to bring it up to code,” he said. “There are so many restaurants in that area now with (Casa) Del Camino, El Ranchito and Sapphire that you don’t need it.”
Underground parking for about 15 cars would be provided through an excavation, although the narrow space may pose a challenge, Skenderian said.
Facing Coast Highway, what was once the Boom Boom Room would be an art gallery, which follows with the movement of art groups to midtown, Skenderian said.
Across Mountain Street, the liquor store nicknamed the Gaymart would be renovated to keep its same look while converting the interior to a market and deli that caters to locals, tourists and beachgoers.
Construction for the project may take a year and a half after getting approval, which likely would take another year and a half, Skenderian said.
Where Coast Inn once catered to the gay community, the restored hotel will welcome anybody who is willing to patronize it, Skenderian said.
Meanwhile, Karger is working to flood Hazy’s Los Angeles office with yellow “Save the Boom” protest cards. To date, he knows of at least 200 cards that have been sent, including ones signed by “The Brady Bunch” actress Florence Henderson and Fran Drescher of “The Nanny” fame.
Contact the writer: or 949-454-7391