New Hotel Proposed for WeHo’s Eastside

Illustration of a southeast view of the hotel proposed for 1040 N. La Brea Ave.(Neil M. Denari Architects)

West Hollywood’s hotel industry continues to spread beyond the Sunset Strip, with a new proposal to build a hotel on La Brea Avenue just south of Santa Monica Boulevard on the city’s eastside.

The nine-story building would contain 91 hotel rooms, a restaurant, an outdoor dining area, a roof-top lounge and a pool. It also would include eight apartments. It would face the east side of the Gateway Shopping Plaza on La Brea.

The project will go before the Planning Commission’s Design Review Subcommittee for review on Aug. 24.

That project comes as a debate is underway about the city’s hotel industry, whose room tax is the City of West Hollywood’s largest single source of revenue. The city’s 19 existing hotels now contain a total of 2,346 rooms. With the completion of the Kimpton La Peer on La Peer Drive and the Edition by Marriott on Sunset Boulevard, that total will be 2,641 rooms, a 28% increase.

Other projects approved for construction or under review would add 739 rooms, an increase 45% over the current number of rooms.

If Korman Communities is successful in getting the city to let it convert a 110-unit condominium building on 8500 Sunset Blvd. into an extended-stay hotel, and Faring’s Jason Illoulian succeeds in his effort to build a 130-room hotel named the Perry on the southwest corner of Beverly and Robertson boulevards, and VE Equities is able to get city approval for a hotel with 113 rooms on the site of Barney’s Beanery, another 353 rooms would be added to the city’s stock.

Combined with the other projects under construction or review, that would mean an increase of 60% in rooms over the number today for a total of 3,743.

Facade of the hotel proposed for 1040 N. La Brea Ave.

A study of the local hotel market conducted last year by CBRE Hotels predicted the hotel room occupancy rate would decrease to 68% by 2020 from the 82% average predicted for this year when the study was conducted. CBRE, whose study didn’t include the proposed hotel rooms at 8500 Sunset Blvd., the proposed project on Beverly and Robertson boulevards, the Barney’s Beanery project or the 1040 La Brea project, predicted that the average occupancy rate wouldn’t return to 80% until 2026.  While some people, such as Councilmember John Duran, note that the addition of more rooms means the city’s hotel room occupancy tax revenue will continue to grow, hotel owners and managers have quietly expressed concern about the increase in competition.

That study prompted a proposal from then-Mayor Lauren Meister, now a City Council member, to halt construction of new hotels until their impact could be studied further.  The City Council rejected that proposal but did agree to require a study of a “no hotel” option in future environmental impact studies and a study of the financial impact of their project on the existing hotel market.

While the city’s hotels largely have been clustered along Sunset Boulevard, where the Jeremy opened last week and the Marriott Edition is under construction, some developers have shifted their focus south. Examples of that are Illoulian’s plan to build the Robertson Lane hotel and shopping plaza on Robertson Boulevard south of Santa Monica, the construction of the Kimpton on La Peer and Illoulian’s proposal for the Perry on the corner of Robertson and Beverly boulevards.

Gwynne Pugh of Urban Studio, the city’s urban design consultant, gave the La Brea project an overall favorable review in a report for the Design Review Subcommittee.

Noting that “this is a relatively large building compared to the scale of development in the surrounding area,” Pugh said “this building will act as a significant marker and gateway into the city of West Hollywood. In addition, the choice of color, a dark grey, really creates an eye-catching and slightly foreboding vision.”

Pugh said his biggest concern with the project was the three driveways on its northern side and that its southern exit “could aggravate congestion on La Brea.” He also suggested the subcommittee consider the effect on the neighborhood of the sky bar on the ninth floor and the color of the building.

The identity of the developer of the project is not clear. As is common, it is registered as a limited liability company using the address of the building. But its office address is that of RPM Investments, a firm that specializes in helping investors sell property and reinvest the proceeds quickly to reduce tax payments.

The Design Review Subcommittee will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 24, at the Plummer Park Community Center, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd.

Aerial view of the site of the 1040 N. La Brea Ave. hotel

  1. Ok Todd, let’s talk about this. Have a fair minded developer, perhaps two in mind. Please ask Hank to connect us as I’m not on Facebook.

    1. I’m not sure there’s much we can do except get the City to turn down the project. The developer of the hotel already owns the land and buildings on site. He thinks his best way to make money is to build a hotel. I’m more than happy to write to the City Council, but how do you compel a land owner to do something different? You can’t make them sell either. If a project is within the zoning code, legally, the city has to go along with a project. If the developer needs a zoning change, then it should be denied. Unfortunately, a project like I described probably isn’t as “desirable” or “profitable” for the new owner.

      1. Lynn: Nobody can force our government in weho to do anything. HOWEVER, that power could arise in county and//or State government. Were the city involved in anyway to assist this (or any private developer) to “get around” ANY Zoning Restrictions, ANY misleading the necessary “new parking spots built to get this increased size, ANY City Government (even a private business hired to disguise City behind it) in meeting the new oversized zoning exception with the number of new green space, new tree planting, OR HERE a Hotel Being built over an old car service center, and a query FILING A FALSE E.I.R. Stmt hiding tru underground toxins … The City being “dishonest” CAN STOP THIS!

  2. I like Lynn’s idea because it is something that is desperately needed by local residents. I’ve seen the stack of invoices on the desk of the owner and they are from everywhere in the area. I’ve chatted with many customers as I wait and they are all happy they’ve found a good place to have work done that doesn’t break the bank. One man from Palmdale brought his daughter’s car there because it’s so hard to find good, fair, honest mechanics anywhere! But without reasonable rent, these kinds of businesses can’t exist in our neighborhood.

    The ground floor could be service bays, parking decks above for car storage, customer lounge, etc. And there could be various shops and restaurants that serve the people in the area. The industrial areas to the south and east of this location are filled with entertainment-industry related businesses – prop houses, equipment rental, recording studios, production offices, etc. The people who work there keep the gateway and other strip mall areas humming during the day. Some restaurants with bars could keep it humming at night too. We don’t need the hotel, we need space that serves the community. Nothing says “come stay here” than a choice of views of Best Buy, Target, Avon fleet services, homeless services or a concrete mixing plant.

  3. Building hotels as cash cows is just another trick to avoid meaningful neighborhood development where folks might actually be interested in residing. More transients that don’t give a wit about the city in the long run are not helping the residents. Cater to those with no connections..Fine! City staff might move out of their silos and actual circulate in various locals to see what is actually happening and not relying on their windshield/drive by assessments.

    This project arrived at Design Review recently with scarcely a comment. All very slick graphics with engineered lighting making it look like the Jefferson Memorial. Brought to you by the CIM Group that favor coal black fortress buildings with occasional lightbox lookouts. Lumps of coal are what folks receive in their Christmas stocking when they have been very naughty……a new use for the waning coal industry.

    A needed development might dedicate itself to a state of the art multi make auto service center with proper waiting areas, a restaurant, temporary work station facilities where someone could spend productive time for short term auto maintenance. Take up an entire block with European Brands on one end, American on the other and folks like Toyota, NIssan, Mazda etc. in the center. One stop service, controlled removal of all their toxic waste, reasonable rent. The residents that live in Weho LIVE HERE and don’t look forward to driving to Palmdale in the future. I’m sure Johann’s doesn’t crave Palmdale either.

  4. Who has ever said, or even thought “weho needs even more new hotels built??”

    Well, everyone involved with the city budget has – for the high hotel revenue that goes into the exorbitant annual budget, that always seems short of funds for basic needs, fixes, clean ups, crime prevention …. as this shows.

  5. I agree with Mark. The area is crap. The number of homeless and hookers of indeterminate sex is quite high. Imagine tourists who have made their first ever trip to Hollywood and then look at their faces when they see the neighborhood. This area has been dodgy for decades. It has always been an industrial/commercial zone. I know it quite well since I’ve been working nearby for almost 40 years.

  6. This hotel will be a bust. Nobody is going to stay at a hotel at LaBrea & Santa Monica Blvd unless it’s a cheap deal. If someone is stupid enough to build this then go for it. Personally I prefer that Johann’s is able to keep his business alive.

  7. With the majority of the council members getting kick backs from the developers West Hollywood is on it’s way to becoming a Las Vegas type city.

  8. Please folks, study the report for Design Review on Thursday, August 24 @ 5:30 posted on WeHo.Org. This structure is not the corner property but rather mid block and it’s southern expanse will have a lovely view of the cement works, its western facade facing Target @ The Gateway. Realistically not many would choose this site as a residence so the development appears to be a convoluted hotel/quasi residential (9 units)/commercial affair that qualifies for bonuses without any obvious welcoming ambiance. It’s a financial calculation at best. It does however with its seemingly soulless “foreboding” appearance as described by G. Pugh in the staff report, fit in with the recent projects on SMB and on La Brea south of Fountain. They are minimally more than crude and utilitarian design aspiring to be hip and trendy with limited shelf life.

    Perhaps we could call this the “Opportunistic Transient Architectural Era”. Of similar aesthetic is the development on the southeastern corner of Wilshire and La Brea which had a great opportunity to match the significance of the 1920’s building opposite on the NE corner but took an easy pass to mediocrity. Many of the original brick 2 story buildings lining SMB will undoubtedly fall prey to this concept with nary a brick facade retained for interest or context. Rather than refreshing or enhancing a community, it is the financial calculation followed by the giant eraser. Any neighborhood deserves better but the community must speak up and show the developers what they want in their neighborhood. In my business, prospective clients come with tear sheets of interiors they admire and we find a way to have a dialogue that inspires the eventual outcome.

  9. @Todd Bianco: So let’s defeat this project in favor of preserving the auto service shop which undoubtedly serves more residents of Weho and the surrounding area that a hotel will Lol! OR if the development really wants to be community minded, incorporate several slick new bays for service rather than for lame businesses that come and go. Now THAT would truly be a community benefit.

  10. @DevelopmentWoes… I’ve talked with Mike @Johann’s about this issue. They have been looking for a new home with little luck. Either the place is too small or the rent is so egregious that it doesn’t make good business sense. Dare I say that they are the best – and yes most honest – MB/BMW/Volvo diesel mechanics I’ve ever found.

    That property has been for sale and in development purgatory for years now.

    I don’t see it being a “positive” with a view of the Gateway center and worse, just a stone’s throw from a very active concrete factory.

  11. @ Todd Bianco: let’s be sure we find a home for George’s Volvo and Johannes’s BMW when necessary that is not in Palmdale. Best service in town and a shout out to Luis!

  12. Oh charming, we really need more black cube-like structures in Weho after that glorious monstrosity was just completed on Sunset. The color of this new project will be really appropriate for urban heat island effect and will help solve our housing shortage, too. Who needs Mecca when you can walk counterclockwise around this…I just wonder what sort of malevolent black stone/heart will be put inside to undermine everyday people.

  13. Much needed. This hotel will capture share-of-market from adjacent Hollywood and will benefit West Hollywood’s resident’s, visitors and strengthen our social and human service programs,

    Great and I like the 21st century design.

  14. That part of the city is growing old and tired. The Coyote Ugly Eastside story (about coyotes) actually reminded me of how ugly the east side of WeHo and Hollywood is. We need more – shopping, restaurants, bars, stores, etc. I have no idea what would thrive (I haven’t studied it) and I see places that I think should be part of our community close (hardware stores/beauty supply). I have no real comment about more hotels, except that we definitely need more affordable housing. When I head east to get to the freeway, I find it utterly depressing.

  15. @Robert Muniz – I agree with you 200% but unfortunately it is never going to happen. We have been blessed with rent control and, historically, low rents for such a prime area of the city, but those days are gone. I am more concerned about our neighbors in Boyle Heights being run out of town because they aren’t protected by rent control. West Hollywood and Hollywood, as well as Downtown, will become as expensive as Manhattan in the next few years, so the bigger issue will be how low-wage workers at all these hotels will commute from their homes to the city and back. At least Manhattan has a massive railway system, multiple boroughs, etc.

  16. Another quasi cheese grater. Mr. Denari seems to have spent too much time looking at Bjark Ingles designs. But this fits in with the other limited shelf life structures recently contrived….not a real building in sight. This one boasts a view of the Gateway Center. Terrific! The warehouse structures to the east have more integrity. This building has some sort of design but no integrity and it looks like it just landed without any thought about the real community and sense of place. It could partner with the funky building nearby that looks to be covered with halloween cobwebs or is that the one on SMB. They all seem like obtrusive non serious faux installations and we can barely tell one from another.

  17. I think this area could use a decent hotel and this design looks interesting. Nothing like this exists right now in that area. The only problem is that my mechanic is in that building and I’m going to be lost without him if he can’t find another local space to relocate!

  18. This area of La Brea has to be prime candidate for what Frank Gehry calls 98% of modern architecture is sh-t!

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