Earlier this month, developer Townscape Partners and the architecture firm Gehry Partners presented an unsolicited plan to the Beverly Hills City Council to build a huge mixed-use campus that would include hip office space, a five-star hotel, retail, and a three-acre public park on about seven acres of land that is, for the most part, owned by the city (a small portion is privately held). The Beverly Hills Courier reports that the council is expected to approve an agreement at their meeting tonight that should help this unexpected and enormous project take a big step forward.
Starchitect Frank Gehry himself gave the presentation to the city council, along with Townscape Partners' cofounder. The team is asking that Beverly Hills give Townscape a 99-year lease on the property, which spans both sides of Third Street just east of Foothill Road, according to a staff report.
The proposed development would have about 500,000 square feet of office space geared toward entertainment, tech, and media tenants; 50,000 square feet of "neighborhood serving retail" space; 150 condos; an "elevated" three-acre public park with a dog park and a concert venue; and a five-star hotel with 180 rooms.
The northern side of the site (336 Foothill Road) would house everything but the hotel, which would go on the southern side (9268 Third Street). There'd be pedestrian bridges connecting the two parts, linking the hotel to all that shopping and open space and offices.
This land isn't empty, however—it's already occupied by "new shallow water wells, parking lots, Lakeshore Entertainment and the Magen David Temple," says the Courier. Part of the land is also already set to become BH's first dog park—an amenity that took years to finally get approved.
According to the Gehry/Townscape proposal: "It is critical that all of the other elements be a part of this synergistic environment in order to transform the hotel’s surroundings into a location suitable for a five-star product…. establishing a new office and residential population, all which is centered around the major public park, as well as the elimination of inferior uses that denigrate the area, will transform this part of town from its previous industrial roots into a completely reinvigorated part of Beverly Hills."
The plan also includes a headquarters for a "top tier talent agency or the corporate home office for a studio or production firm." For that building,
[t]he design focus is centered on iconic exterior architecture, floor to ceiling glass, private controlled entrance and reception, and many great corner office exposures. This building will be the jewel box that any top tier entertainment firm will be thrilled to call home.
The BH City Council will consider a deal tonight to enter into an "informal review process" for the proposal, which means that the suggested project will be subject to community feedback and discussion in several public meetings. Public input, as well as a few other factors (we'll get to that in a minute), determine whether or not the proposal will get to the next phase, which would involve BH putting out a Request for Proposals for a project on the same site, in order to have a nominally competitive process to develop this public land.
The agenda item, which the Courier says is likely to be approved, calls for an informal agreement in which Townscape will give BH $1 million to fund some preliminary steps in developing the site. The money would go toward:
- Determining fair market rent for the land
- Various economic studies related to the proposed development
- Land use planning studies
- The costs of putting out public notices
- "Certain legal and support staff overtime costs"
- The cost of putting together an RFP (if it's decided that one should be created)
Once all the various studies are done, the results plus public comments would be handed over to the BH City Council to see if they want to move on to the next step and open the floor to proposals from other developers too.
Gehry and Townscape are working together right now on a similar project on the Sunset Strip, where their huge 8150 Sunset project will dramatically alter the landscape at the border of Hollywood and West Hollywood.