The suspense is building on whether the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton multimillion-dollar luxury hotel project will be approved by Beverly Hills voters.
On Tuesday, a special election was held and a slim majority of voters shot down the Cheval Blanc project from the luxury hotel chain launched by the French conglomerate in 2006. Three more rounds of tabulations must be made before the final votes are in. The next round of vote counting was scheduled to be announced late Friday afternoon with two more rounds next week. The final results will be determined June 2.
Neither LVMH nor hotel opponents have issued a statement about the project’s future.
LVMH spent three years presenting architectural plans, studies and analyses to make sure the first Cheval Blanc hotel in the U.S. was right for Beverly Hills. Last November, the 109-room hotel spread across Rodeo Drive, Little Santa Monica Boulevard and Beverly Drive, was approved by the Beverly Hills City Council on a 4-1 vote. The council touted that the new development would generate for the city some $778 million in unrestricted funding over the next 30 years, $26 million in non-earmarked funds and $2 million to support local art and culture.
Then an opposition, led by Unite Here Local 11, and locals against the project gathered enough signature to prompt a special election on May 23. When the results came in, they showed the opposition leading by a slim 60-vote margin, with 92 percent of the votes coming from mail-in ballots. Voter turnout was 26 percent.
Residents had to vote on two referendums, one approving a zoning variance and another codifying the city’s development agreement with LVMH. The referendum on the zoning variance garnered 2,849 yes votes and 2,909 no votes. The referendum on the development agreement delivered 2,849 yes votes and 2,908 no votes. Both referendums must be approved to green light the hotel.
The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters is still tabulating conditional voter registration ballots, provisional ballots and mail-in ballots postmarked by election day but arriving after the polls closed.
Many residents believe the $2,000-a-night hotel would change the small-town vibe of the ritzy enclave of 32,000 residents. It would rise to nine stories along Beverly Drive while reaching a more modest four stories on Rodeo Drive, where LVMH has 15 retail locations for its stable of luxury brands. Construction involves tearing down four buildings purchased by LVMH and the removal of more than 5,000 truckloads of debris and dirt.
If Beverly Hills voters reject the project, LVMH said it won’t return to the drawing board with another plan. Anish Melwani, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH for North America, previously said this was the company’s one and only attempt to bring Cheval Blanc to Beverly Hills. “If this effort is not successful,” he wrote in an earlier email, “the space will probably be used for retail.”