The suspense surrounding the future of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton multimillion-dollar luxury hotel project is over.
Days after a special election was held on Tuesday showing a slim majority against the project, LVMH issued a statement conceding defeat for its Cheval Blanc hotel proposal on Rodeo Drive.
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“Although some votes remain to be counted, it now appears that Measures B and C have fallen short by a narrow margin, overturning the results of a comprehensive, years-long review and approval process,” said Jessica Miller, a LVMH spokesperson. “We are proud to have worked with so many residents, civic leaders and business owners who supported this once-in-a-generation investment that would have delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in city funding and a beautiful gateway project for the Golden Triangle. If the final vote count confirms the voters’ rejection of our project, we will respect the outcome, and will not bring the hotel project back in any form.”
Everyone involved in the project had been anxiously waiting for the final results ever since a special election was held last Tuesday to decide if the project would go forward. A slim majority of 60 votes rejected the hotel venture. But the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters needed to do two more rounds of vote counting to tabulate provisional ballots, conditional voter registration ballots and mail-in ballots postmarked by election day but arriving later.
The first post-election count on Friday showed the margin against the hotel growing to about 125 votes. The final results will be determined June 2.
John Mirisch, the lone city council member who voted against the project, said he was shocked that the opposing forces won, given the amount of money LVMH spent on the election. “Indeed, the election results — if they hold — show that Beverly Hills is more than just a brand to be monetized. It’s our home,” he said in an email. “Fortunately, there is still a large number of residents who remain committed to fighting the uphill battle for our community against the forces of self-interest and greed.”
LVMH spent three years presenting architectural plans, studies and analyses to make sure the first Cheval Blanc hotel in the U.S. was right for Beverly Hills. Last November, the 109-room hotel spread across Rodeo Drive, Little Santa Monica Boulevard and Beverly Drive, was approved by the Beverly Hills City Council on a 4-1 vote. The council touted that the new development would generate for the city some $778 million in unrestricted funding over the next 30 years, $26 million in non-earmarked funds and $2 million to support local art and culture.
Then an opposition, led by Unite Here Local 11, and locals against the project gathered enough signature to prompt a special election on May 23. When the results came in, they showed the opposition initially leading by a slim 60-vote margin, with 92 percent of the votes coming from mail-in ballots. Voter turnout was 32 percent.
Residents had to vote on two referendums, one approving a zoning variance and another codifying the city’s development agreement with LVMH. The referendum on the zoning variance most recently garnered 3,440 “yes” votes and 3,563 “no” votes. The referendum on the development agreement delivered 3,440 “yes” votes and 3,565 “no” votes.
Many residents believed the $2,000-a-night hotel would change the small-town vibe of the ritzy enclave of 32,000 residents. It would have risen to nine stories along Beverly Drive while reaching a more modest four stories on Rodeo Drive, where LVMH has 15 retail locations for its stable of luxury brands. Construction would have involved tearing down four buildings purchased by LVMH and the removal of more than 5,000 truckloads of debris and dirt.
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