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Beverly Hills Richard Meier Project Making Major Changes

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The 9900 Wilshire project at the prime intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards in Beverly Hills has been on and off and back and forth for years now, switching owners several times, but the latest proprietors—Chinese-based Wanda Group—seem to be making some real moves. Now they've announced some pretty big changes to the plans, still and always designed by starchitect Richard Meier. The old May Company department store on the site was demolished last year, just before Wanda bought it all for an outrageous sum. Now they're ditching the original approvals for a condo/retail development and going back for entitlements on a plan for a hotel and fewer condos, plus more parking, and they're ditching the small retail component, reports the LA Times. They've also renamed the project One Beverly Hills.

To make space for the 134-room hotel, the developers are planning to take out 42 of the condos; previously planned retail space would also be cut out completely. The hotel would have two restaurants (at ground level and on the roof), plus a rooftop pool for guests and residents. Wanda would operate the hotel, as it does for its 71 others, most of which are in China. (The company is also China's largest commercial developer and the owners of the AMC Theater chain. Overachievers!) With the alterations, One Beverly Hills would have 193 condos, those 134 hotel rooms, and underground parking for 1,083 cars (up from 802), though the height of the project's 14- and 16-story structures would remain the same.

Why take a perfectly good, ready-to-go development and make it harder to build? Maybe Wanda Group just needed to personalize the development a little—give it that Wanda touch. Wanda Group's popping hotels into several commercial developments in progress internationally, including one in Chicago. A hotel also makes sense for the site because, from the time it bought the parcel, the company has said that the project is intended to be Wanda's first big step into the Hollywood film scene, and the headquarters for all their film-related business in town. It's easier to imagine a hotel in that role than a retail/residential complex. It would be weird (not to mention rough for the neighbors) to hold press junkets or fancy after-parties at a bunch of condos.

Wanda's future hotel will have lots of luxe company; it will be joining the Beverly Hilton Hotel next door and the under-construction Waldorf Astoria next to that. But experts say that BH could easily handle another fancy place to stay, citing 80 percent occupancy rates last year, despite the fact that rooms were going for $453 a night on average.

Wanda Group's hoping that the new approvals will only take 18 months, with construction beginning in 2017 and lasting about two years.
· Developers want to add a hotel to a planned condo complex in Beverly Hills [LAT]
· Bev Hills' 9900 Wilshire Sells to Chinese Mega-Developer [Curbed LA]
· 9900 Wilshire [Curbed LA]