Beverly Hills Hotel Wars: Beverly Hilton Doesn't Want A New Hotel Across The Street
So this is what a street fight is like in Beverly Hills.
One one side of the ring, you have the historic Beverly Hilton on 9876 Wilshire Boulevard. On the other end, there's the Dalian Wanda Group from China, which is fighting to erect a new hotel right across the street from the Beverly Hilton.
The Hilton is not having any of it, reports Variety. On Tuesday night, several representatives from the Hilton hotel testified at a Beverly Hills Planning Commission meeting where Wanda's proposed hotel was being discussed. Ted Kahan, the president of Oasis West Realty, the corporate parent of the Beverly Hilton, said that a new hotel would be "an undeniable danger to the future of the Beverly Hilton."
Wanda had purchased the property in 2014. Currently, the area has been approved for a 235-unit condominium, but Wanda wants to get permission to build instead a complex—called One Beverly Hills—with 193-unit condos and 134-room luxury hotels.
With the battle lines drawn, both sides have hired top-dog lawyers. The Hilton has secured the aid of George Mihlsten of Latham & Watkins. And Wanda has gotten Dale Goldsmith of Armbruster Goldsmith & Delvac on their side. Mihlsten had helped get the Staples Center (a $350 million project) built. And Goldsmith worked on USC's 5 million square-foot master plan for its University Park Campus. So yeah, you know it's a big case when these guys are called in.
The lawyers had also showed up at Tuesday's meeting to duke it out. Mihlsten said that the Wanda project would clog up traffic and "be a transportation disaster for the Hilton and the community." Score one for the Mihlsten!
Goldsmith countered by saying that Hilton's concerns of overcrowding is hypocritical, as they are gearing to add a 26-story condominium tower. Oof! Goldsmith is back in the lead!
Wanda, one of China's largest real estate developers, has momentum on their side. They have $139 billion in assets, and have been branching into other ventures such as sports and entertainment, reports Variety. Aside from purchasing Legendary Entertainment earlier this year, they also have a 20% stake in Atlético Madrid, one of the globe's most respected soccer clubs, and a majority share in AMC theaters.
The Hilton, on the other end, has history. The hotel was opened in 1955 and as noted by The Hollywood Reporter, has seen its share of history-defining moments. It was where Nixon gave a sad-sap press conference after he'd lost the California gubernatorial race ("You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore."). It was where undercover cops busted Heidi Fleiss' prostitution ring. And, sadly, it was where Whitney Houston had passed away in her hotel room. The hotel has also been the home to the Golden Globes since 1961.
The Planning Commission will hold another hearing on the project on Sept. 19. This battle looks like it'll be a doozy, with a mega hotel company throwing punches at an overseas real estate titan. We imagine it'll turn out like this: