West Hollywood City Council gave its approval to at its Monday night meeting.
In March 2010, the City Council approved the 11-story, mixed-use hotel project at 9040 Sunset Blvd. (at Doheny Drive) with 148 hotel rooms, 20 condominiums, 18,000 square feet of retail space and 5,800 square feet of conference meeting rooms.
At the time, the project was just a concept proposed by developer Richard Weintraub. No specific hotel chain had committed to it.
Now, the Marriott chain wants to operate the hotel as the West Coast flagship of its new “Edition” brand of high-end, luxury-service hotels. The chain also has Edition hotels planned for London, Miami and New York City.
With a specific hotel operator now in place, the project was asking for modifications to the originally approved plan. Marriott wanted permission to increase to 190 hotel rooms, reduce retail space, include a 5,000 square-foot “Crazy Box” nightclub adjacent to the subterranean parking garage and add eight feet to the building’s height for a 3,100 square-foot bar area adjacent to the rooftop pool.
The Council was excited about Marriott taking on the hotel, one of only five hotels in the chain of more than 4,000 locations that Marriott will actually own.
“I do want this hotel to be built, I do want this company to be here,” said Councilmember John Heilman. “I think they are a good company. I think they would add a great deal of value to the Sunset Strip.”
No designs yet
The project was approved in 2010 based on a design by noted architect Eric Owen Moss. That design was described as “landmark architecture” that would stand out on the Sunset Strip.
Marriott doesn’t want to use the Moss designs, preferring instead to come up with its own design. While the Council understood the desire for new designs, it was insistent that the new architecture be “landmark” as well.
“Our exuberance over the next 40 minutes of this meeting will result in 70 years of [a building] being in the city,” said Councilmember John D’Amico. “We want to make sure that what we are agreeing to comes with a pedigree and looks like something we want to have.”
D’Amico suggested the when the new design comes before the Planning Commission’s Design Review subcommittee, that public notices be sent out so everyone could be involved in the process.
The rooftop pool area was a cause of concern since Marriott wants permission to serve alcohol there until 1:30 a.m. Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land lives across from a hotel with a rooftop pool. She said rooftop pools do create noise that disturbs the neighbors, especially when they run late night hours. Mayor Jeff Prang said there would have to be strict enforcement of noise ordinances.
D’Amico suggested Marriott build a donut-shaped bar area around the pool, a design that would absorb much of the sound.
The project was originally approved for 376 parking spaces, but the modifications Marriott wants would push the parking requirement to 488 spaces. However, Marriott wants to keep the parking at 376 spaces, saying the extra spaces would only be needed if everything was at full capacity.
Several public commenters cried foul about allowing this parking reduction, but the Council seemed to only address this concern in passing.
Councilmember John Heilman said the most about it, suggested the hotel be required to secure off-site parking to make up the difference until it was proven that the extra 112 spaces were not needed.
Members of the public said once the hotel is built, it’s too late to add parking, but the Council ignored that point, saying only that maybe the new architect could find room for some extra parking spaces.
The southern portion of the hotel would face Harratt Street, a residential street. The Council was concerned about having rooms with balconies that overlook Harratt Street, noting that noisy hotel guests on the balconies could disturb residents.
Prang suggested the balconies should be only two feet deep to discourage guests from having parties there. The Council was also insistent the Harratt portion of the hotel blend in with the residential neighborhood and that large trees surround it.
Ultimately, the Council voted 4-0 to approve the modifications. Councilmember John Duran was not present as he is participating in the AIDS Lifecyle bicycling event from San Francisco to Los Angeles.