Luxury hotel proposal pits celebrities against celebrities in Benedict Canyon

A proposal to construct a luxurious lodge in a swanky, wooded enclave of Benedict Canyon has pitted a few of L.A.’s largest deal makers, film executives and celebrities in opposition to one another in a pitched battle over the way forward for one in every of L.A.’s most costly neighborhoods.

The Beverly Hills-adjacent website of the upscale lodge mission — in a neighborhood the place residence costs vary from $3 million to $100 million — is the 33-acre former residence of billionaire businessman Kirk Kerkorian. The property was bought in 2015 for $19 million.

A planning committee assembly is scheduled for Tuesday to make a preliminary choice on the zoning change wanted to construct a industrial mission within the residential space. If it clears that hurdle, a last approval could be required from the Los Angeles Metropolis Council someday within the subsequent few months.

On one facet of the feud is Gary Safady, an actual property developer and film producer, who’s proposing a lodge mission with 58 visitor rooms and suites, plus eight non-public residences, a ten,000-square-foot spa, a health club, a non-public theater and an eight-seat sushi bar, together with a restaurant. Among the many mission supporters, in keeping with letters written on behalf of the mission, are actors Mark Wahlberg, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Gerard Butler, Orlando Bloom, Adrien Brody and Jon Lovitz, plus rock musician Gene Simmons. The celebrities or their representatives couldn’t be reached for remark.

A number of hundred neighbors have signed testimonials in opposition to Safady’s mission, together with such notables as Doorways guitarist Robby Krieger, tv host Phil McGraw and actors Jaqueline Bisset and Stefanie Powers. The neighborhood — shaded in oak, sycamore and willow timber — is peppered with indicators decrying the lodge mission.

“The considered a lodge right here terrifies me,” Bisset wrote in a letter to metropolis officers that included the names of tons of of different opponents. “Primarily due to the rise potential for hearth [and] vehicles blocking the few streets we will escape on.”

Opponents created a web site, Saveourcanyon.la. Supporters launched Enhanceourcanyon.org.

Opponents say they’re being outspent by Safady in his marketing campaign to win Metropolis Corridor assist for the mission.

Safady has invested practically $2 million on Metropolis Corridor lobbyists, in keeping with metropolis disclosure data. Opponents have employed a Metropolis Corridor lobbyist and a authorized agency, spending at the least $74,000 on lobbying actions at Metropolis Corridor, in keeping with metropolis data.

“It’s ironic that we who’ve some means are put within the David function on this David-and-Goliath story,” stated Mark Levin, a author, director and producer of tv reveals and films who opposes the mission and lives adjoining to the proposed lodge website on West Oak Go Street.

The mission was initially proposed in 2018 with 99 rooms and branded “The Retreat.” It has since been revised with fewer rooms and dubbed “The Bulgari Resort.”

If accomplished, it might be one in every of eight current accommodations operated by a hospitality agency beneath LVMH, a French holding firm created by the merger of vogue home Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy. The utmost occupancy of the lodge could be 715 individuals, together with 130 workers per shift, in keeping with metropolis data.

The critics of the mission complain concerning the potential site visitors and noise, particularly if the lodge have been to host weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and different social occasions.

Benedict Canyon Drive is already closely used as a substitute for the 405 Freeway between the San Fernando Valley and West Los Angeles. Including a lodge to the neighborhood would solely irritate the site visitors complications, opponents say.

“A lodge by no means goes to sleep,” stated Robert Mann, an lawyer who has lived within the canyon for 35 years and has helped lead the opposition. “You’ll have individuals coming out and in 24 hours a day.”

Benedict Canyon residents Cristina Colissimo and Robert Mann point out the area where a luxury hotel has been proposed.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – SEPTEMBER 15: Cristina Colissimo and Robert Mann, residents of Benedict Canyon, level out the residential space the place a luxurious lodge has been proposed on the location of a mansion beforehand owned by businessman and billionaire Kirk Kerkorian.

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Occasions)

“We’re containing issues on website as a lot as doable, making the lodge appear to mix in with the atmosphere,” Safady stated in an interview.

If the mission will get a inexperienced gentle from the Metropolis Council, the development would generate a cacophony of chainsaws, bulldozers and cement vehicles for practically ten years, Mann stated.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who represents the neighborhood on the Metropolis Council, has voiced opposition to the mission, as have main mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso.

“The mission’s hillside location, measurement, peak, operations, and different vital options is not going to be suitable with and can adversely have an effect on or additional degrade adjoining properties, the encompassing neighborhood, and public well being, welfare, and security,” Koretz stated in a 2021 movement that the council’s land use committee is predicted to think about Tuesday.

Regardless of the opposition to the mission by influential elected officers, opponents of the lodge mission say they will’t be too assured that the Metropolis Council will kill the proposal.

“With what builders have been capable of get away with on this city, how can we relaxation?” stated Cristina Colissimo, a producer and director of documentary movies who lives close to the proposed lodge.

In response to criticism from opponents, Safady stated his mission compares favorably with the close by swanky Resort Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Resort, two bigger upscale accommodations that draw extra guests than would the Bulgari and are every positioned on solely 12 acres of land.

“I’m not right here to mislead anybody to say we are going to by no means have occasions, however these can be curated occasions, a lot smaller in measurement and far totally different, and all parking can be positioned on website,” he stated.

As for the timber that might be eliminated to finish the mission, Safady stated his mission will change the eliminated timber on a 4-to-1 foundation.

“We’ve got technical specialists engaged on it to make it a bespoke eco-luxury lodge with properties,” he stated.

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