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.
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.