A recent allAfrica article about Qadafi pledging assistance to the Sirleaf administration in handling the inflow of refugees from neighboring Côte D'Ivoire mentioned that Qadafi (or however you prefer to spell his name) also stated his commitment to accelerating the refurbishment of Monrovia's Ducor Hotel. This, along with my last post on the photo artist JR, who installed one of his piece's at the bottom of the Ducor's empty swimming pool, reminded me that although I have talked about the Ducor a good deal, I don't think I have ever posted the 2009 series architectural renderings on the proposed revamp of the hotel. So here they are.
The old Ducor Hotel, which has been vacant for more than twenty years, has attracted a Libyan development concern, the Libyan-African Investment Company, which released these renderings in late 2009. However, the involvement of the Libyans has been in the press since 2008, along with occasional news about a series of meetings/confrontations with disgruntled local residents of the surrounding Rock Hill section of Snapper Hill, many of whom built fairly substantial dwellings around the complex. Although there has been occasional activity at the hulking hilltop structure, it remains basically unoccupied. As a friend of mine stated: "What is going on? The Libyans have been buying that thing for a while now!" I presume that the delicate issue of relocating or compensating the neighborhood has had a lot to do with it, not to mention the murky complications involving the property's status as part of the powerful Episcopal Church's assets.
But in writing this post, I came across this press release giving late February as a start date, and quoting the cost at US$65,000,000. This has processed its way through the Liberian and Diaspora press. Not to sound snarky, for I do hope the job begins soon, but I caution to consider the source.
The Hotel remains an incredible, haunted relic, although there are plenty of loiterers, and there is usually a very friendly UNMIL contingent guarding the site, who I think disallow squatting at this point. It is also one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Liberia-based ex-pats, with the view from the deserted pool area being almost a stock I'm-in-Liberia photo.
The sleek, five-star interior renders of the refurbished hotel differ widely from their current post-apocalyptic condition, as well as the hotel's golden era under the Intercontinental brand. One of the highlights of a visit to the empty Ducor is the unfailing encounter with some of the old guys who worked in the hotel in its pre-1980 glory-- one of which has a dog-eared copy of the Intercontinental brochure.
For more images of the present and past eras, please check out the M2M architectural tour, and for more beautiful and professional photography of the Ducor in its current dilapidated state, I highly recommend my dear friend Glenna Gordon's Scarlett Lion site, where the Ducor has featured regularly as a prominent character is her fantastic work from her time in Monrovia. Be sure to watch the amazing film piece she made for PRI with Jason Margolis, in which they interview some of the former hotel employees.
In my ever-optimstic attitude, I hope that the Rock Hill residents are happy, the Libyans are ready to employ lots of locals in remaking what is truly a breathtaking spot for a hotel into a property that will once again be the pride of West Africa, and attract lots of people to visit Monrovia.
Note: Renderings were obtained via Liberian Observer, and remain copyright original owner. Second image from top is ©Glenna Gordon, reposted from Scarlett Lion. All other images are original to Moved 2 Monrovia, all rights reserved.