Thursday, March 27, 2008

Folie a Deux in Beverly Hills

There are two new developments near to being approved on the West side of Beverly Hills. One is the Richard Meier at 9900 Wilshire, the other an addition to the Beverly Hilton hotel, which will add condo towers and a new hotel to the area. One could argue the merits of of any of these projects architecturally, argue that they are "green" buildings, argue that they will generate less traffic than the Target or Wal*Mart or crack den that the developers say they could legally jam onto their lots. What can't be argued is that a hotel that doesn't have enough parking as it is is not going to gain more by building a second hotel building and condo towers, especially since the parking at the old Robinson's will be taken by, you guessed it, more condos.

The rationale of the city seems to be that Century City is allowed to build a new, shiny 45-story ultra-luxe condo tower on Santa Monica Boulevard just outside of the city limits designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. The city is upset that streets in Beverly Hills will be of course impacted by the traffic that will be generated. This begs the question, does the city think that adding more traffic to one of the busiest intersections in the county will help? Or do they feel that if they make the area so impassible those pesky outsiders will stick to Pico and leave us city residents in relative peace? One could call it the "If Johnny jumped off the Hollywood sign, would you?" school of urban planning.

One of the reasons I was originally against the Montage development had nothing to do with the city's supposed giveaway of city land (which was idiotic), the rather incredible claim that they project would generate no traffic or even the tactics of the developer to try to stop having the project come to the populaces vote: my reasons against the project were that it was not to the city's general plan, and would merely be the first in a long list of projects that would come through the city saying "me too"

Like the William Morris building across the street from the Montage.

Like the Casden Properties condo tower at Saks.

Like the development at the Hilton and 9900.

Of course we were told at the time that those were crazy scare tactics being used by the evil hotels like the Beverly Wilshire and the Peninsula, bad, bad hotel people who wanted to stifle free trade and the ability to own a condo above a hotel and be able to walk to Starbucks.

Because at this rate, it'll soon take you about an hour and a half to drive there...

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