Friar’s Club Project Advances, United Beverly Hilton/One Beverly Hills Project to Return
After years of deliberations, the developers of the former Friar’s Club site at 9908 S. Santa Monica got the green light from the City Council on Feb. 19 to officially forge ahead with building a high-end residential mixed-use project on the southwestern edge of Beverly Hills.
Originally approved by the Planning Commission in 2018, the 13,000-square-foot project includes the development of a 25-unit luxury condominium project over one story of commercial retail and restaurant uses with a total building height of 47 feet, with three levels subterranean parking.
“I so want to make a motion, because we finally have movement,” said Councilwoman Lili Bosse, who, together with Mayor John Mirisch, sat on the liaison to negotiate the Development Agreement and fine tune other details of the project.
As part of the extensive Development Agreement, the developer is required to pay the City a $5 million “Public Benefit Contribution.” In addition, the developer also retains the right to sell, assign or transfer the property with all terms, covenants and conditions of the agreement continuing on with any successors.
The Council unanimously voted to approve the Development Agreement, with Mirisch representing the single opposing vote to a resolution creating a General Plan amendment to establish a residential overlay zone in order for the mixed-use project to be developed in a commercial zone.
The Feb. 19 votes came two weeks after a trio of City Council votes on Feb. 4, where the Council voted 4-1 (Mayor Mirisch dissented) to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Project, introduced an ordinance approving a Zone Text Amendment and Zone Change (Mirisch dissented), and unanimously introduced an ordinance approving a Development Agreement for the project.
The City Council had continued the project’s public hearing to Feb. 18 in order to allow the Peninsula Hotel time to consult with its ownership group regarding the condition to reduce construction noise effects on the hotel in the morning hours between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. In the interim two weeks, the Peninsula, which unsuccessfully appealed portions of the Planning Commission’s original decision in September 2018, requested additional modifications to the agreement, including a request to install a barrier along the roof of the planned project to prevent views into the Peninsula Hotel and that there be restrictions contained in the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) that would prohibit short term rentals.
Immediately after shepherding the Friar’s Club project through its final major hurdle in City Council chambers, the Council turned its consideration slightly north to the unified 17-acre project helmed by the Beverly Hilton. “The proposed application for a unified project is forthcoming,” City Planner Ryan Golich told the Council. The unified project will fuse the nine-acre site anchored by the Beverly Hilton and Waldorf-Astoria Beverly Hills hotels and the eight-acre site of the former Robinsons- May department store. “They believe that the extensions are important in order to ensure their lenders and investors of the viability of the project site.”
The Council unanimously decided to give the developers the option to hold off on developing the combined property until 2026, provided they pay $2 million a year to extend the current two development agreements in place.
“We are talking about the western gateway of our City,” described Councilwoman Lili Bosse. “However this will be imagined, I believe will be world-renowned. As much as Beverly Hills is on the map, I think it’s going to take us to a whole new stratosphere.”
The applicant (Oasis West Realty, LLC and a subsidiary company) had submitted requests to amend the length of time to extend the two development agreements currently in place by five years.
“I suspect you don’t actually want to build what these entitlements allow you to build, but by the same token, I recognize that your financial backers want to have some assurance that you can build something,” opined Councilman Julian Gold. “But I do think there’s a balance here.”
The development agreement for 9876 Wilshire Blvd. (The Beverly Hilton) was originally approved in 2008 and is owned by Oasis West Realty LLC. Before the vote, the agreement allowed the developer to pay a fee of $750,000 per one year extension through May 2022.
The development agreement for 9900 Wilshire Blvd. (the former site of the Robinsons-May department store), which was most recently approved in 2016 as the One Beverly Hills Project, was acquired in 2018 by BH Luxury Residences, an affiliate of Oasis West Realty. Until the vote on Feb. 18, the agreement allowed the developer to pay a fee of $1 million per each year of extension,
giving them until June 2022 to develop the site. The Planning Commission had advised the Council to both raise the fee for extensions to the Beverly Hilton specific plan to $1 million (the same as what was in place for 9900 Wilshire) and lower the limit of requested extensions to three additional years. The City Council offered a compromise, granting the owners the ability to extend both development agreements for an additional four years, at a fee of $1 million for each one year extension, up until June 30, 2026.
“The opportunity to have a unified project at this site is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Vice Mayor Lester Friedman said.