The Real Deal Los Angeles

Beverly Hills Weekly weighs in on contentious development war

Beny Alagem's Beverly Hilton project is "too damn big," the paper said in editorial
October 27, 2016 02:00PM

Beny Alagem, Wanda Group CEO Wang Jianlin and a rendering of Alagem's 26-story tower in his Beverly Hilton project (Credit: Getty, Beverly Hilton)

Beny Alagem, Wanda Group CEO Wang Jianlin and a rendering of Alagem’s 26-story tower in his Beverly Hilton project (Credit: Getty, Beverly Hilton)

Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2016: 4:45 p.m.: Adding fuel to the fiery campaign between developer Beny Alagem and the Beijing-based Wanda Group, Beverly Hills Weekly has released its endorsements for the November ballot.

The paper, which many see as the only non-partisan community paper in the ritzy city, has suggested a “no” vote on Measure HH, the initiative that would allow Alagem to build a 26-story condo tower on the site of his Beverly Hilton hotel.

“Our reasons are simple,” the paper’s editorial board wrote Wednesday. “For one thing, it’s too damn big.”

The Weekly cited Alagem’s circumvention of the planning commission’s review process as a cause for concern and scolded the Hilton for its “pyrrhic war against the Wanda Group.” It also took issue with the project’s characterization of a public garden as a park, but it defended the right of former mayors to support the project.

“The developer should simply build the original project that was entitled in 2008,” the paper concluded.

Beverly Hills’ other major local publication, the Beverly Hills Courier, endorsed Measue HH.

“In addition to a new 26-story building at the City’s gateway, ‘yes on HH’means a new 1.7 acre garden that will be open to the public (the covenant has been recorded by the county) and will bring $33 million in additional revenue on top of all the previously guaranteed development fees,” the editorial reads.

Aside from the editorial, the Courier has been a vocal critic of the Wanda Group’s Beverly Hills subsidiary, a major backer of the No on HH campaign.

“WHY DOES WANDA GO TO SUCH LENGTHS TO DESTROY THE CITY’S 62-YEAR PARTNERSHIP WITH THE HILTON?” the Courier asked — yes, in all-caps, — in a September article about the legitimacy of former Beverly Hills Mayor Richard Stone’s voter registration address.

Stone is a staunch Hilton opponent.

No on HH recently shot back with its own voter registration grievances, accusing Alagem’s HH campaign of voter fraud. The complaint even names the daughter of Hilton executive Daniel Yukelson and the son of former Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad, claiming that they don’t live in Beverly Hills but are registered to vote there.

And so the war continues. [BHW]Cathaleen Chen

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Beverly Hills Courier had not issued official endorsements. The Courier has endorsed Measure HH.