Richard Heyman and his partner, Grant King, are dreaming a little dream of a hotel in Hollywood, and it appears to be coming to fruition.
If all goes as planned, the Dream Hollywood Hotel will be a nine-story, 148-room hotel at the corner of Selma Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard that features a rooftop pool, a pool bar and a restaurant.
It will be operated by New York-based Hampshire Hotels and Resorts, and construction could commence this spring. The hotel could be open as early as spring 2013.
“We’re doing everything we can to set it up for success,” Heyman said.
The project was originally brought to the table in 2007 and approved by the city in 2008, but the stock market fell shortly thereafter, making it difficult to secure investments, he said.
“It was, ‘take the plan, put it on the shelf and let it collect dust,’” Heyman said.
However, in the interim, he said he started looking into the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services EB-5 program, which allows foreign investors to expedite their immigration to the United States through $500,000 investments that create at least 10 jobs. Developers seeking funding, such as Heyman, must establish themselves with a regional center or form one to participate in the program.
“The money must be at-risk,” Heyman said.
After a lengthy application process, the Hollywood International Regional Center was approved, he said. Though the lenders had sold the property at Selma and Cahuenga during that process, Heyman said he and King were able to reacquire it.
Immigrants in the EB-5 program receive a two-year temporary visa for themselves, their spouses and their children. Each $500,000 investment must create 10 jobs, and if the job count is satisfactory, the immigrants can receive a permanent visa.
Heyman said the regional centers must prove the amount of jobs created, and the Dream Hollywood Hotel is expected to create 900.
“At the end of the day, if we don’t prove it, they could lose their citizenship,” Heyman said.
He said he has been in contact with some foreign nationals from China who have expressed interest in investing. Heyman said he will be visiting the country next week to meet with the potential investors, though he plans to visit several times.
If the deal doesn’t go through, though, the project will go forward, with or without EB-5 financing, he added.
“This is a monumental effort,” Heyman said.
Although the regional center’s first project would be one created by his company, Five Chairs Development, Heyman and King hope to use the program to fund other projects in Hollywood.
“It has been a successful program, more so [now] than ever,” he said.
Heyman said the Hollywood International Regional Center has aligned with an immigration consulting firm that has brought 80 families to the United States. He said 70 percent of foreign investors in the EB-5 program are from China.
Investors can choose which projects they want to be a part of, though there is no guarantee on their money, Heyman said. He said the Dream Hollywood Hotel project will cost approximately $45 million.
According to a press release, the hotel project will be the first on the West Coast for the Dream Hotel brand. Heyman said the hotel will add an anchor to the Cahuenga corridor that is much needed.
“We’re going to make that corridor shine,” he said.
Heyman is particularly excited about the pedestrian walkway that will replace an alley behind the existing parking structure the hotel will be built upon. The walkway will consist of the hotel lobby, a café, club space and the Avetine, a San Francisco-based restaurant, he said
“That alley’s going to be spectacular when it’s all said and done,” Heyman added.
The hotel will be located at 6417 Selma Ave.