The West Hollywood Planning Commission on Thursday will hold a public hearing on the proposed Arts Club building on Sunset Boulevard. The project, if approved, will be a major next step in the Sunset Strip’s slow but steady evolution from a raucous nightclub district into a district of luxury hotels and clubs.
The fact that the Arts Club project will replace the Hustler porn and sex toy shop on the southeast corner of Sunset and Hilldale Avenue is especially symbolic of that evolution.
The Arts Club in West Hollywood is designed by Gensler, one of the country’s largest architectural firms. It will be the American version of the famed original Arts Club in London, which was founded in 1863 by a group that included Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope. American actor Gwyneth Paltrow and her business partner, Gary Landesburg, have purchased the Hustler lot for the project. Landesburg is chairman of the Arts Club in London and Paltrow is a member. That members-only club is exclusive and expensive (membership is said to cost $2,000 a year). To become a member one must be nominated by an existing member and participate in or have an interest in art, literature or science. The London SoHo House’s location on Sunset Boulevard is the only thing that comes close to being equivalent.
In response to previous comments from the public and members of the city’s Design Review Subcommittee, plans for the project have been somewhat changed. It will continue to be nine stories high but no longer will have a helipad on its roof. Space for the actual Arts Club on the top five stories of the building has been reduced by about 12,000 square feet to a total of 52,611. It will continue to contain 10 guest rooms, a supper club and a roof pool deck.
Space that will be dedicated to the rental of offices to creative businesses has increased slightly to 45,888. The public art gallery space remains 2,192 square feet and the retail space remains at 6,853 square feet. Parking spaces will be reduced by three to 351.
But perhaps the biggest visual change is an alteration of the building’s northern façade, which steps back away at higher levels, reducing obstruction of the view down the Strip from those driving along it.
The Arts Club has to get the approval of the Planning Commission and eventually the City Council because the project requires some major zoning changes.
“The floor area and height of the proposed project exceed what is currently permitted for the site,” says a report to the Subcommittee from the city’s Planning and Development Services Department. “However, this increased height is consistent with existing development in this portion of the city. The Sunset Strip has long been identified as a location within West Hollywood that can be suitable for increased height and floor area. Buildings constructed prior to incorporation, such as the 9000 Sunset office building, as well as new construction, such as the Edition Hotel at 9040 Sunset, demonstrate that increased density is appropriate for the stretch of Sunset Boulevard between San Vicente Boulevard and Doheny Drive.
“The goal for the Sunset Boulevard Commercial Subarea in the General Plan is to maintain Sunset Boulevard as the highest intensity area of West Hollywood and help it maintain its role as a regional, national, and international destination for entertainment, and the primary economic engine of the city.”
The Planning Commission will hold its hearing at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) at the City Council Chambers at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica. Parking is free with a ticket validated in the lobby.
The city advises those attending the hearing to arrive early. San Vicente Boulevard (between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue) will be closed to vehicular traffic beginning at 7 p.m. due to One City One Pride, Christopher Street West festivities setup. If you arrive after 7 p.m., you can access the five-story parking garage via Melrose Avenue at North San Vicente Boulevard. Sheriffs’ Deputies will be on duty for traffic circulation into and out of the parking garage.