After the Jan. 9 Beverly Hills City Council meeting, the developer of a proposed mixed-use project may be one step closer to reaching an agreement with the city.
For much of 2019, the developer, GPI Companies, and the city struggled to come to an agreement on the project, a four-story building that is planned for 9908 S. Santa Monica Blvd., the site of the former Friars Club building, which was demolished in 2011. The building is expected to include 25 condominiums, 13,000 square feet of retail space and parking for 176 vehicles in a three-story underground garage.
The two sides were at odds on multiple issues, from the financial terms of the deal – such as the public benefit contribution the developer will pay the city – to the practical – like public access to excess parking – and even the length of the development agreement itself.
In October, GPI sent a letter to the council members requesting that the full City Council consider the matter instead of the city’s negotiators, attorneys from Greenburg, Glusker, Fields, Claman & Machinger LLP and financial consultants from Keyser Marston Associates. The City Council also has two liaisons, Mayor John Mirisch and Councilwoman Lili Bosse, involved in the negotiations.
On Jan. 9, Mirisch accused GPI Companies of trying to “circumvent the process” of the negotiations with that letter.
“After that, it was impossible to create any progress,” Mirsich said.
Cliff Goldstein, founder and managing partner of GPI, said the negotiations were stalled by a lack of a counter-proposal from the city. In addition, some of what the city sought, such as a promise that the project be under construction within 18 months, is “not feasible,” Goldstein said.
“We have been patient for close to five years on this project, and believe me, we are anxious to move forward,” Goldstein said.
GPI presented a revised proposal to the council on Jan. 9, one that multiple council members found more agreeable.
“For me, just looking at this, I think there are some improvements that we see now and we hear for the first time on the fly that moved us closer together. Probably, this is the way negotiations should have gone from the beginning, rather than coming to the council and going back and forth,” Mirisch said.
After some council members expressed concerns about negotiations happening in full public view – “I don’t think this is the right process,” Councilman Robert Wunderlich said – GPI’s representatives and the council agreed to meet in closed session immediately following the Jan. 9 meeting to finalize a deal as quickly as possible.
“I don’t want this to continue, continue, continue,” Bosse said.
Pending approval, the council directed city staff to place a vote on the deal on the agenda of the Feb. 4 City Council meeting.
“We were able to get closer [on Jan. 9]. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen before. It doesn’t matter why. I’m glad we’ve gotten a lot closer, and I have full confidence that our liaison will be able to close the deal with the developer,” Vice Mayor Lester Friedman said.