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This story first appeared in the April 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
For several years, insiders have wondered when the wildly oversubscribed Soho House West Hollywood finally would embark on an expansion. The answer, it turns out, is next year. Club founder Nick Jones tells THR he recently zeroed in on an 80,000-square-foot property in downtown L.A.’s Arts District. “It will be called Soho Warehouse,” he says. The move comes on the heels of an aggressive global expansion financed by a $383 million investment from billionaire owner Ron Burkle, which has seen new outposts of the club everywhere from Chicago to Istanbul.
“The Arts District location,” explains Jones, “will include artist studio rooms where you can stay for a period of time — a couple of weeks, a couple of months.” Which building has been chosen is a mystery: Speculation had centered on a five-story brick warehouse at 405 Mateo St., at the base of the historic 4th Street Bridge, but Soho House says the location is elsewhere. Unlike the West Hollywood site, its downtown counterpart will have a rooftop pool as well as a gym. The West Hollywood site also will be going through renovations. Events spaces are being banished; in their place, Jones is building an additional restaurant (serving Mediterranean-style cuisine) and what Jones terms “a club within a club” called the Sunset Lounge, which will feature music acts in the evenings.
A driving force behind the plans, explains Soho House design director Vicky Charles, is that membership is “at capacity” and the events spaces primarily were servicing nonmembers (too often “a wrong element,” says an insider). “An event is one member and 30 guests, and that’s not what we’re about,” says Charles. “When members are complaining that they can’t get a space in the club for breakfast, that’s a problem.” Jones also reveals that Soho House is planning a co-working concept “within walking distance to the West Hollywood club” for the fall, with a separate membership (existing members would receive a deep discount).
Such a play will put the brand in direct competition with its former membership director Tim Geary, who in September joined NeueHouse, which has built a niche in New York as a chic co-working space and is slated to expand this summer to the historic CBS Building on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Insists Jones, “We cohabit very well together with NeueHouse in New York, and I think it’ll be the same in L.A.” Jones’ expansion plans are digital, too. He tells THR a beta version of House Connect, a social network just for members, is set to roll out as early as this spring. “We’re almost there with it.”
March 25, 2:40 p.m. Updated with correct historic bridge adjacency.
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