When Dream Hotel Group’s chief development officer David Kuperberg left Los Angeles for New York 18 years ago, he left behind a very different City of Angels.
“Culver City was nothing,” Kuperberg said. “Santa Monica’s Third Street promenade was just starting. Venice, Hollywood, Downtown, those are places you wouldn’t have dreamed of spending time in.”
Now Kuperberg is betting on those markets, starting with the 179-key Dream Hotel Hollywood, which is slated to open in 2017. We chatted with Kuperberg about the New York brand’s expansion, homelessness in Hollywood and being sued by Peter Gatien.
So, the last we heard, Peter Gatien was suing your business partners for naming the club Limelight…
We are renaming it. We haven’t come out with the official name. We are announcing it soon, closer to opening.
Why did you choose Hollywood specifically?
Silicon Beach, Santa Monica are too expensive because of the tech companies. More young, unmarried people are moving into Hollywood. The Dream brand’s core principles are its food and beverage program and the level excitement they bring to a neighborhood. There are only so many places that have the same energy and Hollywood has the capacity to handle it.
Who are you are partnering with on the food and beverage side of things?
We are bringing Tao Group from New York and Vegas, and that is the anchor of our food and beverage program. Three of our five food and beverage properties are on the roof. That’s three different rooftop venues. One is all day dining, the other is more of a lounge area, and the third is a nightlife type of venue. All are with incredible views. There is a pool up there too. The rooftop in Hollywood is three times the size of the one Downtown in New York.
How will you take on the challenge of adding development to an area that gets hit heavily already with traffic?
There is traffic and it’s something we deal with and are getting through. We have more than seven food and beverage outlets, two restaurants are on the site, so we have been working on a parking strategy. That is something the GM is dealing with.
What exactly is the parking strategy?
All of our parking will be off-site except for what’s under Tao. It’s something that was a concern from day one. Originally the city was [requesting we use] the second floor for parking, but we were able to move the parking offsite. The rationale was to move the cars quickly from the activity rather than have that build up.
Homelessness has increased in Los Angeles, and is prevalent in Hollywood. How will that affect this project?
We see Dream Hollywood the way we saw our Downtown Manhattan property when we started that site nine years ago. Meatpacking was not what it is today. People thought we were crazy but we saw our vision. It’s the same thing with Hollywood and the amount of energy we bring to a neighborhood, which makes things improve there and around the neighborhood. We’re the catalysts for change.
How will you distinguish yourself from, say, the Roosevelt Hotel?
Someone could come stay with us and never have to leave the premises. They can go to our food and beverage outlets, to our club and bars, and then for late night pizza and never have to leave the hotel. We want to capture the guests with different desires both during the day and night.
The plans mentioned an alley installation?
It runs along the side next to our hotel and will be [open] all day and night, when it will look like a bazaar and feel like a whole separate neighborhood. All the food and beverage is accessed through the alley, so it’s a place for people to congregate. We are bringing in cobblestones and will make it charming.
What lessons did you learn from New York that you’re implementing in L.A.?
Using separate elevators from the street to reach the rooftop and not through the [hotel] lobby is a huge thing. That was a big lesson for us.
What will Dream Palm Springs be like?
Dream has had a presence already in Palm Springs doing pop ups at Coachella. This property is our first in the US to have Dream Residences. We launched that concept in Doha. We are north of 30 condos. There are stand-alone villas, which is different than our other properties. The bar in Palm Springs is set pretty low so we feel Palm Springs needs a Dream-like product. We can make a big mark in that market based on the existing competition. We also do a good pool scene.
Where will the next Dream projects rise?
From a hotel standpoint, there are only so many markets where you could have more than one Dream. We are thinking DTLA, Mid-Wilshire, Studio City or Culver City. I’d love to get into Santa Monica and Venice.
Where do you live?
I live in Brentwood, in Mandeville. We love to take the dogs up into the mountains to hike so we tend to stay on that side of the 405 — the Brentwood, Santa Monica and Venice area.