First Look at Kelly Wearstler and Brad Korzen's Extended-Stay Hotel, Proper
The developer/designer duo behind L.A.'s high-end boutique-hotel culture, now bring their elevate taste to Hollywood with a 22-floor, 200-unit building that noted ballet dancer Stephen Galloway describes as "so, so chic."
A cool luxury extended-stay: It's typical in London and Hong Kong, but nobody's doing it in L.A., so that's what this is about," says developer Brad Korzen as he tours his latest project alongside his wife, internationally renowned interior designer Kelly Wearstler, on June 10. The pair are debuting the 22-floor, 200-unit Proper at the historic former CBS Columbia Square complex in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard (the building shares a courtyard with Viacom's new corporate offices and the private membership co-working club NeueHouse). This venture marks Korzen and Wearstler's first new hospitality play since they sold their fashionable hotel brand the Viceroy in 2010 to Starwood Capital Group for an undisclosed price. "There's an absolute market for something that isn't the Oakwood," says Korzen. "People going between New York and L.A., people getting divorced, people renovating their homes, people here in town on projects for two or six months, particularly those in the film and television and music businesses."
The couple's new concept bridges their extensive hospitality background — they were at the forefront of L.A.'s hip hotel boom at the turn of the millennium, together bringing the midcentury modern Avalon and chinoiserie-Parisian Maison 140 to Beverly Hills — with their mutual experience conjuring must-have apartment addresses. Charlize Theron, Dave Navarro and Jason Statham have lived at the historic Broadway Hollywood building that Korzen, 52, and Wearstler, 48, redeveloped into lofts a few blocks west of Proper at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Avenue, while Johnny Depp and Amber Heard cohabitated (until their breakup in May) in a penthouse triplex at the pair's ahead-of-the-curve downtown L.A. gentrification contribution, the art deco-style Eastern Columbia Building.
“Every piece feels like some guy or some woman or some couple lived here, and they bought that chair at one point and they bought a new sofa at one point,” says Korzen of the furnished rooms, some of which come with acoustic Fender guitars.
The oak kitchen table and overhead lighting fixture are custom designed by Wearstler.
At the restrained if not minimalist Proper, the floors are travertine, the expanses of Douglas fir are carefully bleached, the energy-efficient Blomberg refrigerator in each unit is stocked with Kelly Wearstler collection chocolate from Brentwood-based chocolatier Compartes, and the rents range up to $22,500 per month for 2,582 square feet. (Half the units, all furnished, can be rented for a minimum of a week; the rest — unfurnished — for a month or longer.)
"It feels like California — my idea of it right now: modern and relaxed," says Wearstler, who over the past decade has transitioned away from Hollywood Regency, the look she single-handedly revived and on which she made her name, particularly among her private clients (who include Stacey Snider, Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller and Gwen Stefani). Korzen and Wearstler's former 11,000-square-foot Beverly Hills home, previously occupied by William Powell and Carole Lombard and then later by James Bond producer Albert Broccoli, was redone in that maximalist aesthetic. In May, Tom Ford paid a reported $50 million for it in a bidding war, narrowly beating out Jay Z and Beyonce.
The more spare, airy look of Proper matches its moment and suits its target market. "I've had the experience with staying in executive housing in L.A.," says Louise O'Riordan, vp brand partnerships at Santa Monica-based private aviation firm Surf Air, which partners with Proper. "Corporate apartments, you quickly realize, are not cheap — you're paying a lot of money for very little, particularly in terms of thought going into the space. There's no feel-good factor. Here, there very much is."
Many rooms offer floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the hills and Hollywood sign.
Muses the noted ballet dancer Stephen Galloway (he has choreographed multiple Rolling Stones tours), who splits his time between Frankfurt, Germany, and L.A. and became one of the first Proper tenants when he moved into a unit facing the Capitol Records Building less than a month ago: "It's just so, so chic."
The Hollywood Proper, which eventually will feature restaurants open to the public (one on its lobby level and one on the rooftop adjacent to the pool), is the first of an aggressive rollout plan over the next few years, from Santa Monica to San Francisco to Austin. The other properties primarily will offer hotel rooms. A 13-story downtown L.A. location is slated to bow at the end of 2017 in a 1925 Renaissance-style building situated two blocks south of the Eastern Columbia and the buzzy Ace Hotel — a boutique-lodging competitor with which Korzen appears eager to compete. "People like to go there because it's fun," he says of the Ace. "But you don't want to stay in that hotel room as an adult. People who have the budget want space."
The rooftop includes a pool, lounge and bar area.
“It’s about keeping it clean and uber-modern,” says Wearstler of the aesthetic. Bedrooms have Egyptian cotton linens and wool rugs with natural texture.
As for the Hollywood outpost, he notes, the design intention for the suites is "the idea of staying in someone's really well-done Airbnb apartment." In a model unit on the 12th floor, he gazes over at Wearstler, whom he met two decades ago and has worked with ever since. (They now have two boys, 12 and 13, who have yet to register a particular affinity for a future in the hospitality industry. However, Wearstler jokes, "They do like room service!") She is smiling, her leather-jacketed body framed by a killer view of the Griffith Observatory. "Nobody's more in tune to what makes great rooms than Kelly," her husband says.
Together, the two embody an edgy Hollywood glamour that suffuses every project they conceive, regardless of location. Indeed, they seem almost immune to the significance of the Proper's particular geography (Technicolor has opened an office down the block; Netflix is building its headquarters walking-distance further east). "They're unique in their approach to aesthetics through hospitality," notes top L.A. restaurateur Stephane Bombet (Terrine, Hanjip), whose Viviane debuted last fall at the Avalon. "They literally don't want the customer to touch the floor, in the sense that they're wowed from A to Z. It really is rare."
Cabinets are stocked with earthenware plates from the San Francisco store March. Wearstler has had a partnership with Compartes for two years.
Wearstler designed this blackened brass sconce with milk glass globe, which is featured in every suite in either the entryway or living room.
This story first appeared in the July 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.