The big buildup about a new Beverly Hills condominium project is already getting torn down.


Neighborhood groups that fought vehemently against the city's recent approval of the Montage Hotel began picking apart elements of the project, called 9900 Wilshire, almost immediately after it was presented to city leaders last week.


The owners of the eight-acre site, at the traffic-congested corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards, said they plan to build 252 luxury condominiums in two 12-story buildings.


The project would replace an ailing Robinsons-May that Federated Department Stores Inc. plans to close next spring.


But the development is likely to be contested and a final vote by the City Council might be two or three years off.


David Margulies, chief executive of New Pacific Realty Corp., developer of 9900 Wilshire, said there would not be additional traffic because 65 percent would be "open space" and residential buildings traditionally bring in fewer cars on a daily basis than do commercial projects. "To be a responsible developer, you have to be flexible," Margulies said.


Criticism came quickly from the Beverly Hills Residential-Business Alliance for a Livable Community, a mix of homeowners, civil groups and businesses that brought the Montage plan to a ballot measure last March. (Voters narrowly approved the hotel.)


Robert Silverstein, a Pasadena lawyer who represents the alliance, said 9900 Wilshire looks "like a hospital" and "cold and brutal." He also questioned the developer's claims that the project would not increase traffic.


But opponents could find this battle more challenging than fighting the Montage, which also was opposed by the Peninsula Beverly Hills. "They didn't want competition with another luxury hotel that was better located and had a better product than they had," said Jay Newman, chief operating officer of Athens Group, the developer of the Montage.


Newman said the only businesses affected by 9900 Wilshire would be the Los Angeles Country Club and the neighboring Beverly Hilton Hotel, which just received an $80 million makeover that is more likely to complement the new project.

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