clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Beverly Hills votes down 26-story tower, ending bizarre development saga

New, 3 comments

No 26-story tower, no 1.7-acre park

Beverly Hills voters have decisively rejected a local ballot measure advanced by Beverly Hilton owner Beny Alagem that would have allowed him to merge two already-approved mid-rise condo towers into a single 26-story structure. As incentive to voters to approve this most unusual measure, Alagem proposed creating a 1.7-acre public park on the site in addition to the tower.

Well, voters ultimately rejected that idea, with only a little over 44 percent—or 4,373 total voters—casting their ballots in favor of the proposal. The vote concluded a bizarre saga during which Alagem spent millions of dollars trying to lure voters and battling against the local subsidiary of massive Chinese development firm Wanda Group, which is constructing its own major project across the street.

That project, called One Beverly Hills, was today approved by the Beverly Hills City Council after officials negotiated a lucrative deal with the developer. Under the terms of the deal, Wanda will pay $60 million to the city in upfront costs, along with additional fees expected to garner more than $800 million over the next 30 years.

Beverly Hills mayor John Mirisch tells Curbed that Alagem would have likely faced similar terms had he tried to get his project approved through the conventional planning system. That may be one reason the Hilton owner chose instead to take the unusual step of putting the plan before voters.

In spite of a spirited campaign that included massive voter outreach and parties at the Beverly Hilton, the measure still came up short. Adam Englander, a consultant on the campaign opposing the initiative, estimates that the Yes on HH campaign spent over $1,000 for every vote received.

Representatives of the Yes on HH campaign could not be reached for comment, but in a recent interview with the Planning Report, Alagem said he would move forward with his original plans for two shorter condo buildings if voters did not approve the measure.

“I’m very proud of the residents of Beverly Hills,” said Mirisch, who opposed the measure and has called it a “skyscraper initiative masquerading as an open-space initiative.” Voters, he says, were “able to see through a multimillion dollar campaign and make what I believe is the right decision for our city and our community.”