The sale of the former Robinsons-May department store property in Beverly Hills may finally clear the way for a proposed luxury condo development at the high-profile site.
However, today’s weak housing market may force the property’s new owners to build fewer than the 235 condominiums planned by the previous developer – and sell them cheaper than had been predicted.
Joint Treasure International, an investor group from Hong Kong and Singapore, announced last week it had bought the property at 9900 Wilshire Blvd. out of foreclosure for $148 million.
That’s a considerable drop from the $500 million British developer Candy & Candy Inc. paid in 2007. The company defaulted on a $365 million loan last year.
Prior to losing control of the property, brother developers Christian and Nick Candy received approvals for a project designed by Getty Center architect Richard Meier that would have featured the condos, as well as 17,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space in a garden setting. Experts predicted that the brothers would have had to sell the condos at $2,500 or more a square foot to make their development pencil out.
Noelle Gayral, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker specializing in Beverly Hills-area luxury condos, said the lower price that Joint Treasure paid for the property should allow the new developer to cut the number and price of any condos.
“We already have a lot of condos in the area – Century, Carlyle, Beverly West – and I think they’re going to have to look at that market when they decide whether to continue with that many,” said Gayral. “But this eases the pressure. I think in a few years, they could ask for $1,500 a square foot and that would be reasonable for the location.”
The only other new luxury condos in Beverly Hills – the seventh and eighth floors of the Montage Beverly Hills hotel, where 20 residences were constructed – have been selling slowly. The hotel opened two years ago and so far only nine of the condos have been sold at prices ranging from about $2,100 to $2,500 per square foot, according to website TheMLS.com.
Joint Treasure executives have indicated they intend to redevelop the property based on the approved plan, but also have left open the possibility of submitting revisions. They were traveling to Hong Kong and unavailable for comment.
However, any changes to the plans would restart the approval process and send the project back to the Beverly Hills planning commission, said city spokeswoman Cheryl Burnett.
Homeowners association groups, which opposed the Meier plan, would likely welcome a less dense project. Southwest Homeowners Association president Ken Goldman said the approved plan was too large and imposing.
“It was designed in such a way as to wall off the city,” he said.
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