The long-awaited Cheval Blanc Beverly Hills hotel by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton was unanimously approved by the Beverly Hills Planning Commission on June 20. The 115-room luxury hotel is expected to face the Beverly Hills City Council to decide its fate at the end of summer or soon thereafter.
While there have been concerns with a few aspects of the proposal and may be some others in the future, such as the hotel’s height, several people said that no project in the Golden Triangle of Beverly Hills had garnered as much excitement in recent memory.
“We are very pleased by the planning commission’s unanimous approval of Cheval Blanc Beverly Hills following careful consideration and valuable feedback,” LVMH said in a statement. “We now look forward to the next step in the city’s transparent and inclusive public review process, and to working closely with all stakeholders to deliver an exceptional new landmark and economic driver in the heart of the Golden Triangle.”
The French luxury-goods company purchased the site, which was formerly a Brooks Brothers store and three other properties, in 2018 for $245 million. Located on the conspicuous corner of Rodeo Drive and South Santa Monica Boulevard, the 1.24-acre site will include 25,000 square feet of street-level retail space, a wellness center, spa and conference rooms.
Cheval Blanc Beverly Hills has retailers excited for the big changes to come with it, and for many, something this exciting was long overdue.
The last large development in the Golden Triangle that sparked a lot of attention was the Montage Beverly Hills hotel (now known as Maybourne Beverly Hills), which was built in 2008, according to Houman Mahboubi, executive vice-president at Jones Lang LaSalle.
“That brought attention, but nothing at this level. Nothing,” Mahboubi said. “Having a Cheval Blanc, which is really the number 1 hotel in the world, and to have them open doors here in the greatest city in the world, being what Rodeo Drive is and what the Beverly Hills triangle is – it’s the perfect marriage.”
He said that, if the hotel is approved, retailers will be positively impacted by the project before construction even begins.
“That’s why, for example, Rodeo Drive has no more vacancies, because so many top brands of the world want to secure their position… in having a retail store on Rodeo Drive,” Mahboubi said.A handful of retail stores had concerns about sharing an alleyway with the hotel, however. Some high-end shops use the alley as private entrances for their customers, particularly those who are celebrities, and the retailers believed a proposed redesign of the alley would hinder their customers from using it.
LVMH worked with the planning commission to make changes that would alleviate worries of businesses being affected during and after the construction. The fashion house developed a “detailed transportation management plan and improved, relocated alleyway.”
“There were a number of design changes that were made to the project. Most of the concerns related to the alley and just access to the other retailers on (Rodeo Drive),” said Ryan Gohlich, director of community development at the city of Beverly Hills. “There were some modifications made to improve circulation in the alley there. And then we also have a number of conditions that the planning commission imposed on the project regarding the alley design operations and also signage … to try to alleviate concerns from the surrounding retailers there.”
Another issue is height. Cheval Blanc would stand nine stories tall on the Beverly Drive side, going down to four stories on the Rodeo Drive side. Because the city code limits buildings in the Triangle to three stories, the City Council would have to grant an exemption.
Hotels Are Hot
LVMH’s investment in Beverly Hills doesn’t stop there. In addition to several high-end retail shops the company operates there, the conglomerate in December purchased Luxe Hotel Beverly Hills – an 88-room inn on Rodeo Drive – from the Harkham family for $200 million. Sitting at $2.3 million a room, this is the second highest per-room price ever paid for a hotel in California and the most expensive in Los Angeles, according to Alan Reay, president of the Atlas Hospitality group.
“It is a huge, huge endorsement of how strong people believe in the Beverly Hills market, and specifically Rodeo Drive, for them to be investing that kind of dollars,” Reay said. “It speaks volumes of the interest in that specific market, especially from major international companies. I think that the message that this is sending is that the sky is the limit on hotel investments in the city of Beverly Hills.”
The hotel industry had a record-breaking year in 2021, according to the year-end California hotel sales survey conducted by the Atlas Hospitality Group. Los Angeles County led the state, selling 77 hotels for more than $1.9 billion.
If approved, the hotel is expected to be open in 2025, and it will be designed by renowned architect Peter Marino. Marino has designed a number of residential and retail spaces in Los Angeles including the Dior location on Rodeo Drive. At a planning commission meeting on May 26, committee members expressed their support and excitement for the project.
“I believe that in moving this project forward we are advancing the greater good of Beverly Hills,” said vice chair Thomas C. Hudnut.