Beverly Hills residents may be lining up for their last Scorpion Bowls soon.

Beny Alagem, owner of Oasis West Realty LLC and the Beverly Hilton Hotel, has announced plans to build a five-star Waldorf-Astoria hotel where the iconic tiki bar, Trader Vic's, now stands.

The hotel would be the first new Waldorf-Astoria to be built on the West Coast.

The Packard Bell founder announced plans for a three-building campus last April, including changes to the Beverly Hilton, a condo tower where Robinson's May is currently situated and a third tower on the corner of the property. Another condo tower was seen as the most likely use, given that Beverly Hills is perennially short on available housing. The softening market made the decision to go with another hotel easier. Community input also helped, and led to a reduction of about 80 condominiums.

"Bringing two legendary hotel brands together in Beverly Hills will create a new legacy of luxury for the Beverly Hilton property," said Alagem. "Together, the Waldorf-Astoria Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hilton will create a one-of-a-kind hotel property unmatched in its diverse offerings, services and amenities."

The proposal also includes three additional traffic lanes: an eastbound lane and a right turn lane on Wilshire Boulevard, and a westbound lane on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Alan X. Reay, president of Atlas Hospitality Group, said that the hotel condo market was indeed weakening but maintained that any project on the property would likely be successful.

"I don't see any negatives to that site whatsoever," he said. "It's probably the largest under-utilized site in Beverly Hills and probably in the western United States. I think the buyer is doing all the right things."

Waldorf-Astoria is Hilton's top-of-the-line brand, and Reay said the new hotel would compete with the luxurious Peninsula, Beverly Wilshire, L'Hermitage and Bel Air hotels.

Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects will design the proposed 120-room Waldorf-Astoria Beverly Hills. Construction could begin in the second quarter of 2008. The new building will also be set back from the property line, creating an open, grassy area.

Alagem recently completed the $80 million renovation of the Beverly Hilton hotel. The projected cost of the overall project on the 9-acre site is about $500 million.

The Beverly Hilton will be a 402-room hotel when the project is complete. The condo tower proposal calls for 120 residences.

Alagem maintains that his plan is to open the property up to the Beverly Hills community, an effort that has proved successful at the Beverly Wilshire hotel, which is just blocks away.

"The Beverly Hilton has been part of Beverly Hills for more than 50 years and it was important for us to ensure that the community had a meaningful role in shaping the future vision of the property," said Alagem. "As a result of almost a year of community input, we have a stronger vision for the future, one that will bring significant new revenues and much needed transportation improvements to Beverly Hills."

Party Girl

Mattel Inc.'s American Girl Place, which has delighted middle class girls and their mothers since 1998, is launching a new store concept. The toy maker will test American Girl Boutique and Bistro in Galleria Dallas and Atlanta's North Point Mall.

The stores will have party rooms for birthdays and other special events. Themed parties will include organized games and activities, special food and cake. Other planned features include a Doll Hair Salon and coordinated other-daughter classes.

"Given our success in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, we're excited to bring the new American Girl Boutique and Bistro concept to select markets and even more fans across the country," said Wade Opland, American Girl's Vice President of Retail. "With premier locations in Dallas and Atlanta, the stores will provide greater opportunities for new and existing customers to experience the American Girl brand in a fun, casual environment and celebrate special times together."

Construction is already under way at both locations. The freestanding Dallas location will be 22,500 square feet. Atlanta's will be about half the size.

"Any shopping center would be fortunate to have American Girl in their retailer line-up," said Cris Burgum, general manager at North Point Mall. "American Girl provides a one-of-a-kind shopping experience for mothers and daughters. We're confident that shoppers in Northwest Georgia will flock to this store and create wonderful memories."

Staff reporter Emily Bryson York can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235, or at .

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