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This story first appeared in the March 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Is Soho House finally getting some Sunset Strip competition? On Feb. 8, plans for The Arts Club, also a London-based private members haunt, went on display at City Hall in West Hollywood. The club was founded far earlier than its Soho House rival (it began in 1863) and similarly caters to “creative types” (then: Charles Dickens; now: Gwyneth Paltrow, an investor). Its backers are seeking to erect a postmodernist nine-story tower where Hustler’s shuttered two-floor sex shop still stands, a review of the documents reveals.
The bottom half of the building would be leased out as office space, with the top featuring not just amenities that would match its competitor down Sunset (screening room? check!) but many more, from a spa and gym to a rooftop pool. The club, which hopes to break ground by 2018, is seeking zoning variances for its significant height and massing similar to those granted along the ever-vertical boulevard in recent years for Ian Schrager’s nearby Edition hotel with Marriott and a condo project at the site of the former House of Blues.
“The Arts Club is pleased to join the West Hollywood community and play a part in the revitalization of a dormant corner on the historic Sunset Strip,” executive director Alice Chadwyck-Healey tells THR. Dues are slated to run in a similar range as the current $2,000-a-year local annual commitment for Soho House — which, aware of encroachment, aggressively has sought to solidify its footprint across Los Angeles by announcing a second outpost in downtown’s Arts District and, in January, by taking over the oceanfront address once utilized by Larry Ellison’s failed Italian restaurant Nikita next to Nobu in Malibu for a beach club.
Those moves come after the September debut in Hollywood of co-working concept NeueHouse (it hired former Soho House membership director Tim Geary) and as word persists of arts-oriented Manhattan private club Norwood scouting local real estate while Sunset Tower owner Jeff Klein moves forward with his conversion of The San Vicente Inn into yet another chic members-only hangout.
Rivals may do well to recall that taking on Soho House’s L.A. dominance is easier willed than done. Remember 2013’s much-ballyhooed (and now DOA) 41 Ocean, a lushly appointed adversary in Santa Monica backed by, among others, former WMA chief Jim Wiatt? Those who do still cringe.
Perspective view – aerial – south
Perspective view – Sunset Blvd. looking East
Perspective view – ground level plaza
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