Rodeo Drive dust-up puts LVMH’s plans for hotel on hold

Hermès, Armani, Chanel voiced objections to plans for luxury hotel

Cheval Blanc with 468 Rodeo Drive (Getty, Google Maps)
Cheval Blanc with 468 Rodeo Drive (Getty, Google Maps)

UPDATED, Mar. 8, 2022, 7:46 a.m.: LVMH has hit a roadblock on its planned Cheval Blanc hotel on Rodeo Drive.

The company has asked the city of Beverly Hills to halt its review of the planned 115-key hotel on Rodeo Drive. The request came after a number of luxury retailers voiced objections to the plans, according to the Beverly Hills Planning Commission.

LVMH has asked for the commission to delay hearings to an undetermined date in the future, giving the company more time to provide information on how it can alleviate concerns about the project, according to Masa Alkire, a principal planner with the city.

“We are engaged in detailed studies regarding options for addressing the issues commissioners have identified,” a spokesperson for LVMH said in a statement. “Those studies will take time, and we are therefore requesting continuance of consideration of the project to a future date to be determined.”

The luxury French retailer announced plans to build a Cheval Blanc hotel at 468 Rodeo Drive — formerly occupied by Brooks Brothers. The hotel would also include a 500-person private club and restaurant space. Construction on the project was anticipated to start this year and finish in 2026.

Planning delays will push construction dates back further.

The delay requested by LVMH signals a need for additional time to figure out how it can build its project and take into account concerns brought by Hermès, Armani and Chanel.

Hermès, Giorgio Armani and Chanel were among retailers who had criticized the plans, arguing the hotel would block a shared alley used by the stores to serve their VIP clients.

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The high-end retailers also voiced concerns that construction of the project would disrupt their own operations and asked for assurances they would be compensated for any interruptions or damage, according to planning documents.

The companies also asked LVMH to put up $500,000 for the city to hire a third-party construction monitor to “act as an exclusive, fulltime liaison between themselves and the [roject’s construction team.”

“There needs to be good faith negotiation between [LVMH] and its neighbors,” Commissioner Peter Ostroff said in a commission meeting on Feb. 24. “You haven’t done it, it doesn’t feel like you’ve engaged in good faith negotiations.”

City commissioners were also concerned about the increase in traffic the hotel might cause along Santa Monica Boulevard, which already accommodates about 1,400 an hour on a regular day. With the new hotel, that could increase to around 1,635 cars, according to LVMH’s estimates.

Despite opposition from the luxury retailers, many residents wrote to the city’s planning commission in support of the project.

“By adding a luxurious hotel with retail and dining options, we will finally have a strong anchor that will be a draw to tourists and locals alike,” Thomas Blumenthal, the CEO of Gearys, a watch retailer.

The Cheval Blanc isn’t LVMH’s only property on the famed luxury street. In December, the company bought the former 86-room Luxe hotel on Rodeo Drive for $200 million It’s unclear what the retailer plans to do with that property.

This story has been updated to include a statement from a LVMH spokesperson.