A proposed luxury hotel appears to have been shot down by voters in Beverly Hills, California, after voters concerned about development and unions prevailed against the world’s richest person in a vote that is seen as having a potentially chilling effect on developers considering future hospitality investment in the city.
French luxury conglomerate LVMH said in a statement late Friday its effort appeared to have fallen short by a narrow margin to allow the company to redevelop a former Brooks Brothers into a 109-room Cheval Blanc hotel at 468 N. Rodeo Drive along the world famous retail corridor.
LVMH was down more than 120 votes, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk on Tuesday. The election is expected to be certified Friday. LVMH’s founder, chairman and reported owner of about half the company is Bernard Arnault, who Forbes and Bloomberg have ranked as the world’s richest person.
A spokesperson for LVMH said in the statement it won’t bring the hotel project back in any form if the final vote rejects the development.
The project went through a two-and-a-half year planning process and won approval from the Beverly Hills planning commission and city council in 2022. Then, labor union Unite Here Local 11 gathered enough signatures to put the hotel development on the ballot.
Project supporters said the development would have generated $778 million in tax revenue to the city’s general fund over the next 30 years. Detractors included Beverly Hills residents who don’t support construction and Unite Here Local 11, which argued that there wasn’t enough affordable housing available for workers near the hotel site.
Analysts say the hotel’s rejection will have a chilling effect on future hotel investment in the city. Alan Reay, president of Irvine-based hospitality brokerage Atlas Hospitality Group, said the vote shows that hotel developers need to work closely with unions to secure support for future projects.
Alternatively, the vote demonstrated why California hotels sell at a premium compared with the rest of the country because of the difficulty of building, Reay said.
Hotel developers now will have new questions to ask themselves before pursuing construction in Beverly Hills, including whether there are more favorable markets elsewhere to build, Reay said.
At least 216 luxury hotel rooms are in the works in Beverly Hills in a market that features 17 hotel properties, according to CoStar data.
“Do they want to take on and try to develop a hotel in Beverly Hills when the wealthiest person in the world didn’t succeed?” Reay said.
Despite the years of planning and millions of dollars spent pursuing the hotel redevelopment project, the property is expected to reopen as a retail store.