Friday, October 18, 2013

Guggenheim Partners to Bankroll Beverly Hilton's Transformation (Exclusive)

This story first appeared in the Oct. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

One of the biggest on-again, off-again real estate deals in Los Angeles is back on in a big way. 

The Beverly Hilton Hotel, opened by Conrad Hilton in 1953, has played backdrop to a host of Hollywood highs and lows (Esther Williams gave swimming lessons to the visually impaired; Whitney Houston drowned in a bathtub there in 2012). Now, the plan to turn the 569-room hotel into the West Coast's first Waldorf Astoria is picking up steam. Guggenheim Partners (THR's parent company) will be lead investor and co-developer on the project, which starts construction in 2014 and won't be completed for "several years," according to one commercial real estate expert.

PHOTOS: Exclusive Photos of Beverly Hills Hotel's New Pool 

The enterprise originally was proposed in 2006 by Hilton Worldwide, which owns the Waldorf Astoria brand, as a $500 million development that would demolish the existing hotel's main tower and replace it with a 170-room, 12-story Waldorf Astoria, as well as two separate luxury condo buildings. The plan was approved by the Beverly Hills City Council, but progress ground to a halt when the recession hit.

The hotel's current owner is Beny Alagem, co-founder of Packard Bell Electronics and CEO of Oasis West Realty LLC, which purchased the 8.9-acre property in 2003 from Merv Griffin, who had owned it since 1987. A spokesperson for Oasis West declined comment.

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