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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Head of Wanda’s Beverly Hills subsidiary weighs in on development spat

Rohan a'Beckett questions Gary Winuk, attorney behind two complaints against One Beverly Hills

September 28, 2016 05:29PM

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A rendering commissioned by the “No to HH” campaign of the 26-story tower proposed by developer Beny Alagem in Measure HH

A rendering commissioned by the “No to HH” campaign of the 26-story tower proposed by developer Beny Alagem in Measure HH

Wanda Group’s Beverly Hills subsidiary is upping the emotional ante in its ongoing dispute with a competing Beverly Hills project.

“The Beverly Hilton and some of the proponents of Measure HH have resorted to xenophobic language in order to try to discredit us and the One Beverly Hills project,” Rohan a’Beckett, the deputy GM of Wanda Beverly Hills Properties, told the Hollywood Reporter.

It is unclear what exact language was used, but the THR interview was the first time the real estate chief has stepped centerstage to fight back against allegations that some suspect came from his top competitor. He directly questioned the connection between Sacramento lawyer Gary Winuk, who has filed two publicized letters against Wanda’s $1.2 billion One Beverly Hills project, and its competitor next door, Beverly Hilton owner Beny Alagem’s 26-story condo tower proposal. Alagem is trying to get his tower approved via a ballot initiative dubbed Measure HH. Wanda Beverly Hills Properties has largely funded the opposition campaign, “No on HH,” which focuses on the project’s height.

Winuk’s first letter, sent on behalf of “anonymous citizens” accused former mayor Barry Brucker of breaking lobbying laws by consulting on the One Beverly Hills project. The second letter was sent on behalf of a labor union that represents workers at Alagem’s Beverly Hilton hotel. It accused Wanda of using foreign money to campaign against Measure HH. Through Winuk, labor union Unite Here Local 11 alleged the Chinese developer is illegally “funneling money” into the “No on HH” campaignThe Real Deal pointed out the same lawyer was involved in both separate complaints on Monday.

Beckett told the Hollywood Reporter that the Wanda Group was never contacted by Unite Here Local 11, which claims to have reached out to the company to discuss unionization of the hotel.

“For months, Mr. Winuk has refused to identify his client, despite numerous requests to do so,” a’Beckett told THR. “The union may be Mr. Winuk’s client on this scurrilous accusation, but he has refused to identify his client from his past accusations.”

Beckett went on to further suggest the lawyer was working for Alagem’s campaign.

“There is only one entity that benefits from Mr. Winuk’s attempts to derail the One Beverly Hills project and bully opponents of Measure HH,” he said.

When contacted by the magazine, Winuk said, without disclosing his client, “The relevant issue is whether there is an ethics violation and if so what is the appropriate measure for the city to take?” [THR]Cathaleen Chen

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