The 120-room hotel will be at the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire - the Trader Vic's location right next to the existing Beverly Hilton. The Waldorf replaces a condo project that had been slated for that site and which generated lots of community opposition because of congestion fears (as if there isn't any congestion there now). Apparently, the thinking is that a hotel would be more palatable than a condo, especially since under the plan the Beverly Hilton would be reducing the number of hotel rooms from 570 to 402. Also as part of the plan, developer Oasis West says it will add two new lanes to Wilshire Boulevard (a new eastbound lane and a right turn lane) and one westbound lane to Santa Monica Boulevard.
Oasis West is the development company headed by Beny Alagem, one of the founders of Packard Bell who bought the Beverly Hilton from Merv Griffin in 2003 for $130 million. The hotel has already undergone an $80 million renovation. Condos are still included in the long-term $500 million makeover of the 9-acre site. Two buildings are planned for an area around Merv Griffin Way that will have 90 residences. Some residences are also planned for the Waldorf property. By the way, using the Walforf name is part of a brand extension that Hilton Hotels launched a year ago. There are Waldorfs in La Quinta, Maui, Phoenix and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Business Wire
Speaking of Hilton: Long-time CEO Stephen Bollenbach will be stepping down from that position at the end of the year, but remain co-chairman until the end of 2010. COO Matthew Hart is considered among the candidates to succeed Bollenbach. Reuters