The Real Deal Los Angeles

Athens Group exits partnership with Wanda on $1.2B Beverly Hills condo project

The firm was expected to work on the project until 2020: Athens Group
October 17, 2017 10:00AM

One Beverly Hills project. From left: Jay Newman of The Athens Group, Wang Jianlin of Wanda Group. (Credit: onebeverlyhills.com, LinkedIn, Wanda Group)

UPDATED, Thursday, October 19, 2017, 4:00 pm: Dalian Wanda Group’s U.S. subsidiary is now riding solo in 90210.

The company’s development partner, Athens Group, exited the $1.2 billion luxury condominium and hotel complex in Beverly Hills — dubbed One Beverly Hills — just as sales were about to begin, Bloomberg reported.

The reason for the split remains unclear.

“We are taking this project forward ourselves,” Rohan a’Beckett, deputy general manager of Wanda Beverly Hills Properties LLC, told Bloomberg. “I can confirm that Athens is not involved in the project anymore.”

One Beverly Hills, at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard, will include 193 luxury condos and 134 hotel rooms. Construction has yet to begin.

Athens —  a Phoenix-based company specialized in luxury resorts, urban hotels and residential projects — joined the project in June 2015 with much praise from David Shu, the general manager of Wanda Beverly Hills. Jay Newman, chief operating officer, told Bloomberg the firm planned on working on the Beverly Hills project through its scheduled opening in 2020. A spokesperson for the One Beverly Hills project said Athens completed their contracted work in January.

“We brought the One Beverly Hills project to Wanda as their development partner including the modification of the project’s entitlements to include a Wanda hotel, the design and construction of the project, its opening and the sale and marketing of its condominiums,” Newman said. “As of May of this year, we are no longer involved in this development.”

The project has faced obstacles, but up until now they have existed outside of the partnership. Wanda and Athens were engulfed in a gnarly two-year battle with their competitor next door, Beverly Hilton owner Beny Alagem, over his attempt to pass a tall condo project via ballot measure. Their campaign against the measure may have contributed to its resounding defeat.

One Beverly Hills gained the City Council’s vote of approval in November, but is still awaiting building permits, according to city spokeswoman Therese Kosterman.  The company got permission to open a condo-sales showroom on Sept. 14.

As part of Wanda’s approvals, it agreed to pay a record upfront fees greater than $60 million to the city in order to build the project.

Overseas, Chinese giant Wanda Group, led by billionaire Wang Jianlin, is facing larger issues. The Beijing-based company is one of the most aggressive buyers of foreign assets, and has recently faced pushback from the Chinese government. The company owns more than $40 billion of property worldwide, according to RCA. Its troubles may be pouring over to American soil, as well, considering the collapse of its $1 billion plan to buy Dick Clark Productions. [Bloomberg] Natalie Hoberman 

Correction: An updated version of the story includes a statement from a PR representative of the One Beverly Hills project and a statement from Athens Group’s Jay Newman.