West Hollywood’s City Council voted Monday to let residents decide whether plans to build a private club on the site of the Sunset Strip Hustler store should move forward.
The council greenlit the members-only Arts Club in August, granting the project three approvals needed to move forward. But the council’s decision was challenged in October by the hotel workers union Unite Here Local 11, which collected more than 2,800 signatures from registered West Hollywood voters—enough to put the matter on the ballot.
The union wants to overturn one of those approvals: a general plan amendment that allows the developer to build the commercial project on a site partially zoned for residential use.
Because the amendment was “an integral part of project approvals,” the Arts Club’s future would be uncertain if it were reversed, according to a report by city administrators.
At the City Council meeting, Unite Here Local 11 members spoke out against what many called “radical rezoning” of the roughly 8,150 square foot piece of the project site in use now as a parking lot.
Danielle Wilson, speaking on behalf of the union, told the council that by granting the amendment, it was “dramatically changing the character of the area by further privatizing the Sunset Strip and privileging luxury development over the desperate need in our city for affordable housing.”
Former City Council member Steve Martin echoed that sentiment, taking issue with “a residentially zoned lot [being] ceded to a deep-pocketed developer without any real benefit to the city in regard to housing.”
WeHo residents will decide in the city’s March 5 election whether the council’s approval of the Arts Club project will stand or be revoked.
The Arts Club, which is backed by Gwyneth Paltrow and her business partner Gary Landesberg, would be housed in a nine-story structure, designed by Gensler, with shops and offices on the lower levels.
The top five floors would be open to Arts Club members only, and hold amenities including private restaurants and bars, as well as a supper club, screening rooms, a gym and spa, 15 guest rooms for members of the club to use, and a rooftop pool. The project would be served by an underground automated parking garage with space for 354 vehicles.
Membership dues at the Arts Club’s London branch cost over $2,500 annually on top of a $2,500 “joining fee.”
Developers said last year that they wanted to begin construction this year, with work wrapping up by 2020. It’s unclear how far the timeline would be pushed back by the ballot initiative.