A proposal to construct a luxurious resort in a swanky, wooded enclave of Benedict Canyon has pitted a few of L.A.’s greatest deal makers, film executives and celebrities in opposition to one another in a pitched battle over the way forward for one among L.A.’s most costly neighborhoods.
The Beverly Hills-adjacent web site of the upscale resort venture — in a neighborhood the place house costs vary from $3 million to $100 million — is the 33-acre former house 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 resolution on the zoning change wanted to construct a business venture within the residential space. If it clears that hurdle, a remaining approval can be required from the Los Angeles Metropolis Council someday within the subsequent few months.
On one aspect of the feud is Gary Safady, an actual property developer and film producer, who’s proposing a resort venture with 58 visitor rooms and suites, plus eight non-public residences, a ten,000-square-foot spa, a health club, a personal theater and an eight-seat sushi bar, together with a restaurant. Among the many venture supporters, based on letters written on behalf of the venture, 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 venture, together with such notables as Doorways guitarist Robby Krieger, tv host Phil McGraw and actors Jacqueline Bisset and Stefanie Powers. The neighborhood — shaded in oak, sycamore and willow bushes — is peppered with indicators decrying the resort venture.
“The considered a resort right here terrifies me,” Bisset wrote in a letter to metropolis officers that included the names of a whole bunch of different opponents. “Primarily due to the rise potential for fireplace [and] vehicles blocking the few streets we will escape on.”
Opponents created an internet site, Saveourcanyon.la. Supporters launched Enhanceourcanyon.org.
Opponents say they’re being outspent by Safady in his marketing campaign to win Metropolis Corridor help for the venture.
Safady has invested practically $2 million on Metropolis Corridor lobbyists, based on metropolis disclosure information. Opponents have employed a Metropolis Corridor lobbyist and a authorized agency, spending at the least $74,000 on lobbying actions at Metropolis Corridor, based on metropolis information.
“It’s ironic that we who’ve some means are put within the David position on this David-and-Goliath story,” mentioned Mark Levin, a author, director and producer of tv exhibits and films who opposes the venture and lives adjoining to the proposed resort web site on West Oak Move Highway.
The venture 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 among eight current motels operated by a hospitality agency beneath LVMH, a French holding firm created by the merger of trend home Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy. The utmost occupancy of the resort can be 715 individuals, together with 130 staff per shift, based on metropolis information.
The critics of the venture complain concerning the potential visitors and noise, particularly if the resort had 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 resort to the neighborhood would solely irritate the visitors complications, opponents say.
“A resort by no means goes to sleep,” mentioned Robert Mann, an legal professional 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.”
“We’re containing issues on web site as a lot as attainable, making the resort appear to mix in with the setting,” Safady mentioned in an interview.
If the venture 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 mentioned.
Councilman Paul Koretz, who represents the neighborhood on the Metropolis Council, has voiced opposition to the venture, as have main mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso.
“The venture’s hillside location, dimension, top, 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 encircling neighborhood, and public well being, welfare, and security,” Koretz mentioned in a 2021 movement that the council’s land use committee is anticipated to contemplate Tuesday.
Regardless of the opposition to the venture by influential elected officers, opponents of the resort venture say they will’t be too assured that the Metropolis Council will kill the proposal.
“With what builders have been in a position to get away with on this city, how can we relaxation?” mentioned Cristina Colissimo, a producer and director of documentary movies who lives close to the proposed resort.
In response to criticism from opponents, Safady mentioned his venture compares favorably with the close by swanky Resort Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Resort, two bigger upscale motels that draw extra guests than would the Bulgari and are every situated on solely 12 acres of land.
“I’m not right here to mislead anybody to say we’ll by no means have occasions, however these will probably be curated occasions, a lot smaller in dimension and far totally different, and all parking will probably be situated on web site,” he mentioned.
As for the bushes that might be eliminated to finish the venture, Safady mentioned his venture will substitute the eliminated bushes on a 4-to-1 foundation.
“Now we have technical specialists engaged on it to make it a bespoke eco-luxury resort with properties,” he mentioned.