Chaos, Uncertain Future at Hilton

The storied Beverly Hilton served as the western White House for President Kennedy and is home to the Golden Globe Awards. But things have been turned upside down since Whitney Houston died there Feb. 11, with fans, the media and investigators swarming the Beverly Hills property. The Houston tumult is only the hotel's most recent upheaval. In 2008, owner Oasis West Realty, headed by businessman Beny Alagem, embarked on a costly campaign to gain approval from Beverly Hills voters to develop a 12-story, 170-room Waldorf-Astoria hotel and two luxury condo buildings on the nine-acre site. Opponents were concerned about traffic created by the $500 million development at Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards and the density of the project (one condo building would be as tall as 18 stories). Ultimately, the measure was approved by 50.41 percent of voters after a campaign that reportedly cost Alagem $3 million and was fraught with allegations of vote-buying. But the project was never built. Ownership instead put the property on the market for $500 million in late 2010 but pulled it six months later. A spokesperson for the hotel says, "At this time, there is no announcement on the development."