In a neighborhood meeting held tonight at the Ramada Inn, Jeff Klein, owner of the San Vicente Inn, laid out his plans to transform the dilapidated bungalows that make up the San Vicente’s properties into a swank urban inn.
Klein’s plans got strong support from neighbors of the inn who attended the meeting. Klein, who also owns the Sunset Tower hotel on Sunset Boulevard, intends to erect a new building on a lot behind the 850 San Vicente Blvd. property that won’t mimic the design of the historic bungalows but will relate to them. It will take up most of the property and be approximately 45 feet tall. However, the top floor will be stepped back and provide outside terraces so as not to look monolithic. None of the three new buildings planned for the west side of the property will be higher than two stories. The three buildings will house 10 suites.
Klein also plans to build a two-story sound wall on the north side of the northern most piece of property, next to the Desmond condominium building at 851 San Vicente Blvd. Neighbors, worried about how it would look, asked that trees and other greenery be added to soften the impact of the wall.
The 850 San Vicente bungalows will house 20 to 23 rooms, maintaining the look of the Old Sherman era building. The largest old building on the lot will serve as a reception area and lounge and breakfast area. Klein estimates rooms at the refurbished San Vicente Inn, which now go for as little as $79 a night, would rent in the $250 to $300 a night range.
The new building to the north of the bungalows will serve as more of a spa, with larger and more luxurious rooms. Klein also plans to replace the existing pool. Guests in that area would be able to eat at the in-house restaurant, order room service and have no real need to leave the resort.
Klein said he has secured more than 40 parking spaces at the Palm Avenue lot that once was used by Video West and is across from the Santa Palm Car Wash. All parking for the inn will be by valet.
Klein said he has budgeted around $30 million for the project, of which $18 million will be spent on renovating the existing buildings. Klein must take his plan to the West Hollywood Historic Preservation Commission because of the historic status of the Old Sherman buildings. The project finally must be approved by the city Planning Commission before construction can begin. Klein said he expected the entire process from securing approval to completing construction to take two years.
The San Vicente Inn — known as a gay “clothing optional” place — has been in decline for years and has had a reputation as a center for drug use. Since Klein bought the inn last year, calls about problems there to the Sheriff’s Department have been down 75 percent, a deputy said. There has been only one call about a problem since Jan 1.