On July 10, the city red-tagged the First Avenue Hotel, ordering the building vacated -- and that meant that both El Diablo and Sketch had to close, at least temporarily. But after three weeks of fighting, owner Jesse Morreale managed to get a hearing yesterday morning before the Board of Appeals -- and after three and a half hours, the board agreed that the First Avenue could reopen. Which El Diablo will do today.
Morreale has sixty days to make some repairs to the building...but unraveling this mess could take longer.
The need to pay back more than the $150K. The city officials who made this seemingly arbitrary decision should be terminated immediately and the city should pay back not only court costs, but three weeks of missing profit for Morreale and three weeks of lost salary for the 137 people that were put out of work. Perhaps the best thing for the city to do would be to pay for all the necessary upgrades to the building themselves. That might go some small way toward making up for the horrible damage they've done.
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In the saga of El Diablo, the devil is definitely in the details. Check into the First Avenue Hotel debate here.