With a referendum vote on the controversial Waldorf-Astoria hotel and condo project in Beverly Hills looming, both sides are ratcheting up their rhetoric.
The November referendum will determine whether developer Oasis West Realty LLC can remake the site of the Beverly Hilton by removing some buildings and adding two condo towers and a Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
The Beverly Hills City Council approved the $500 million project by a slim 3-2 vote earlier this year, but opponents led by the Citizens Right to Decide Committee gathered enough signatures to place the referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Larry Larson, treasurer of the group, said that developer Oasis West has misled the public about the size and scale of its plans at the nine-acre hotel site on Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards. The new buildings would include a 12-story hotel, and eight- and 18-story condo towers.
"In all of their hundreds of thousands of dollars of brochures they've never shown a depiction of the height of the towers," said Larson, an attorney who lives in Beverly Hills. "The total density is almost double what's at the current site."
A spokeswoman for Oasis West, a Beverly Hills-based real estate developer headed by entrepreneur Beny Alagem, told the Business Journal that a rendering of the entire project was not available.
Corinne Verdery, senior vice president of Oasis West, said that the company's plan includes "reducing building footprints and replacing them with smaller buildings."
"We are confident we are going to win in November," she said.
Earlier this month, a resident of Beverly Hills who worked for another of Alagem's companies filed a lawsuit challenging the wording of the referendum. The lawsuit was quickly settled when both sides agreed on new language.
City Councilman Barry Brucker, who voted against the project, said that while he's in favor of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, he is worried about the size of the condo component and its location on the property. He said that the smaller of the two towers would "completely obliterate the view corridor at the gateway to our city."
Councilwoman Linda Briskman supports the project, noting that it is a first-class, tax-generating development.
Rexford Industrial LLC, a Los Angeles-based industrial developer and investor, has purchased a one-acre property in Pasadena for $4.7 million. The company has plans to renovate the property's six small buildings and either maintain them for light industrial use or convert them to creative office space.
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