Two Updates…

Here are two updates to some articles posted earlier this year about the Palazzo East apartments near The Grove and Santee Alley in Downtown L.A.

More after the jump.

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In February, I had mentioned (via the L.A. Social Club) that the Palazzo East billboard at 3rd and Fairfax was defaced enhanced so that instead of saying “Like Heaven, it’s a gated community,” it said “Like Abu-Ghraib, it’s a gated community.” Defamer even picked up on the story.

Well, updating the sitch, because they’d apparently been advertising themselves as a hotel even though they’re zoned for apartment use, they will now be shut down as a result:

For travelers seeking a convenient, well-priced Los Angeles hotel, it sounded like a real find.

“Stay in a gated community where residents are pampered with resort-style amenities including a full-service concierge, a world-class health spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center with personal trainers, a pool and sundeck,” one travel website advertised. “These neatly appointed one- and two-bedroom units feature spectacular views and spacious terraces.”

The only problem was that the rooms ó priced from $159, excluding taxes and fees ó were being offered illegally because the complex is zoned for apartment use, according to the city’s Department of Building and Safety.

Under city code, short-term “hotel” stays are not allowed at such properties.

And in June, Sean, Xeni, and I visited (here and here) Santee Alley looking for the surveillance cameras that the MPAA had paid the LAPD to install looking for bootleg DVDs. Xeni noted the fake Fendis, among other warez.

And updating the sitch, last week, the LAPD conducted a raid on one store there, saying that if the counterfeit merch was authentic, it’d have been worth $18 million:

Santee Alley got its start in the 1970s, when the wholesalers along Maple and Santee streets started selling products out of the backs of their showrooms on weekends. They were so successful that eventually, that back alley became their front door.

Today, the alley is known worldwide as a shopping destination: a place where you can buy everything from turtles and towels to cellphone antennas and suitcases. A newspaper in New Zealand recently touted its bargains. As downtown has boomed, the alley has become even more popular.

But still, the place is gritty, packed with all kinds of people and merchandise. Rap music blares as sellers hawk their goods. Mobile vendors sell fresh fruit and ice cream, while shoppers try on sunglasses and model knockoff purses. The street looks more like a merchant bazaar in Mexico City or Hong Kong than Los Angeles, with the narrow alley lined with shops that stack merchandise high along their front facades.

Some of the businesses do sell legitimate items. But according to police, the amount of counterfeit merchandise along the alley, and in the stores near by, is staggering.