JMBM Secures Approval for New Luxury Hotel in Hollywood

On October 8, 2009, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission unanimously approved a luxury 80-room boutique hotel in the historic Security Pacific Bank Building at the corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga. Based on the work of JMBM and the project team, the hotel concept received vast community support ranging from historic preservation associations to neighborhood groups. The owner, Jeffrey Records, chairman and CEO of MidFirst Bank, has previously developed lavish hotels in Texas, and identified Hollywood as a prime location for a new high service hotel. The hotel will cater to a sophisticated clientele that seeks a location in the heart of Hollywood convenient to both music and movie studios, as well as entertainment venues.

The architect, Rottet Studio, created a vision for the hotel that returns it to the Hollywood glory years of the 1940s, with a grand entrance and porte cochere on the north side of the building, whimsical water features and topiary that accentuate the exquisite historic architectural detailing, and elegant design and furnishings in spacious guest room suites.
The project also provides a full entertainment experience that begins with casual refreshments in the rooftop bar and café, featuring sweeping skyline views, continues with a magnificent dinner in the celebrity chef’s restaurant in the double-height space at ground level, and concludes with live entertainment at the nightclub in the subterranean bank vaults.

The hotel project posed key legal challenges due to the proposed nightclub and rooftop venues, lack of any parking, and the historic status of the building itself. The property includes both the historic Bank Building and a one-story structure on the north lot, which currently contains a restaurant and nightclub. Neighbors and business owners have often complained about the noise, police activity, parking issues and trash left by the nightclub patrons. JMBM and the project team convinced the City Council office, neighborhood groups and police department that the new nightclub with live entertainment and a rooftop venue would have sufficient parking, security and protocols to eliminate any future concerns.

The addition of the rooftop café, bar and pool lounge area also caused the Bank Building to exceed the total floor area permitted on the property by the City’s general plan. In lieu of filing for a general plan amendment, JMBM proposed sharing the total floor area across all of the lots. This created the opportunity to construct a tunnel between the basement of the Bank Building and the structure on the north lot to locate cleaning and other “back of house” services outside the Bank Building itself.

The existing historic Bank Building does not have any on-site parking, so JMBM and the project team developed a shared parking analysis that allows for the development of a parking structure on the north lot across from a new building entrance on the north side of the Bank Building. Based on this analysis, the parking can sufficiently accommodate guests of the hotel, restaurant and entertainment venue.

Finally, the project posed challenges to balancing the historic preservation requirements with the mechanical, structural and physical upgrades necessary for the hotel and entertainment uses. JMBM and the project team worked with various building and fire department officials, and with the Office of Historic Resources, to create solutions which maintained the character defining features of the building while permitting all uses required for the project.

Sheri Bonstelle is an attorney at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Marmaro LLP in the Firm’s Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Department. Sheri’s practice focuses on land use and construction matters. Sheri is both a lawyer and an architect. For more information, contact Sheri at 310.712.6847 or SBonstelle@JMBM.com.

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