The “Sunset Tower” at 9034 Sunset Blvd. Not Jeff Klein’s Sunset Tower Hotel, a truly historic landmark, but the latest proposal for a hotel on the Sunset Strip.
No one is mentioning this is 19 stories – almost 200 feet tall. Per the city’s Sunset Specific Plan, the maximum height allowed for this site is 60 feet, or roughly six stories. The 9000 Sunset Blvd. building is 16 stories. The Sunset Doheny hotel is 13 stories. This will tower over both, no pun intended.
The hotel on the empty lot at Hilldale and Hammond will be six stories. The Hustler/Arts Club project will be seven or eight stories. The London is 10 stories. The Aahs! gift store site next to it has recently been sold and anything built there can go to 10 stories but the developer will undoubtedly ask for more.
Soon Sunset will be a solid wall of towers. Ever drive along Sunset during the day? The 9000 Sunset building now casts a shadow all the way to Wetherly Drive until mid-afternoon. After these are all built, Sunset will be in the dark for a solid half-mile from 9200 Sunset to past San Vicente Boulevard, then picking up again from the Sunset Millennium to the site of the former House of Blues and whatever else they have in store through to the monstrous Gehry project pending at Sunset and Crescent Heights. So much for enjoying a daytime walk along our famed boulevard.
Do we really need all these hotels on Sunset? What about cool office space to attract actual businesses for a particular cool industry such as tech, creating an actual local need for all these new hotel rooms? More office space also might help generate daytime pedestrian activity along Sunset. Instead, hotel guests will be Uber-ing elsewhere since there is nothing along Sunset but hotels.
They say Sunset is changing. True. It is the developers who are changing it with the city’s shortsighted help. It is not necessarily because of demand. The first developer entitles the property then flips it to the next one who builds it who then flips it to the next one on the promise of big profits based on how “hot” Sunset is getting because of all the new hotels and investment dollars pouring in. None of this has been materializing in actual revenues from the promised shops, restaurants, condo sales, apartment rentals or hotel room tax revenue. Just real estate flipping.
On the ground, Sunset is still struggling. Long-time restaurants and shops are closing rapidly. New ones can’t stay in business a year. New condos can’t get sold. What a surprise with their odd floor plans, windows staring into looming neon-lit billboards (with the pending promise of them becoming digital.) And oops! They forgot to put in the required terraces for each unit. Gee, where was the city’s Code Inspector on that one? Offering them as rentals didn’t help. Now what to do?
The Sunset Millennium is a perfect example of a project that is failing up. The last investor will be left holding the bag. The first one is laughing all the way to the bank, having screwed us over with a gargantuan project it never thought would get approved, given its original pie-in-the-sky/ask-for-everything-but-prepare-to-settle-for-half proposal.
And yet the city thoughtlessly carries on without a plan for anything except how to squeeze more money out of Sunset with billboard revenue and hotel room taxes.