When Paul Allen paid $41 million for the Redbury Hotel in Hollywood last June, people wondered what he was up to. The co-founder of Microsoft is not known as a hotelier.
Allen's plan is now clear — the Redbury will be turned into a club for entrepreneurs similar to a co-working venue, but turned up to 11 with such Hollywood touches as a recording studio, swimming pool and live performance stage.
After a makeover valued at more than $10 million, the hotel building will reopen in April 2018 as the first U.S. outpost of Allen's Hospital Club, a popular locale in London for people in creative fields to hang out, work or make things together.
The original club was opened in 2004 by Allen and English musician Dave Stewart in a derelict 18th-century hospital building in London's Covent Garden district. After a search in the U.S., Allen decided to expand near the storied intersection of Hollywood and Vine.
"L.A.'s position as a hub of art, culture and creativity makes it the ideal location for the h.Club's first global extension," Allen said in a statement.
Members of the Hollywood version at 1717 Vine St. will be able to use the club as a substitute for an office, but it will more broadly be a place for entrepreneurial people in different fields to connect and collaborate, said Sue Walter, chief executive of Hospital Club.
The Los Angeles Club will have lounges, a screening room, a recording studio and a performance space intended for musical acts, theater pieces, comedy, magic and opera, Walter said. Artworks by members will be displayed.
There will be three dining areas including a rooftop restaurant that leads into a desert garden inspired by the English gardens of the late filmmaker Derek Jarman. Cleo, an existing restaurant, will continue to operate independently on the ground floor. There will be a swimming pool and a gym.
The 57-room Redbury Hotel will close in July. When the property reopens next year after the conversion it will have 36 rooms available for rent to the public. Overnight guests will granted temporary membership in the club, Walter said.
The London club has more than 4,000 members, she said. She hopes that the Hollywood club will have 1,500 members when it opens in 2018 and grow to 5,000 members over the next six years. Annual fees in Hollywood are set at $1,200 now but are expected to double with the passage of time, she said. Members under the age of 30 pay half price.
"We want to support young, emerging creatives," she said.
Hospital Club picked the Hollywood and Vine location in part because it is close to major studios and near entertainment-related firms such as Netflix, Viacom and Live Nation.
"Big names are moving into the area," Walter said. "I have been astonished by the level of development. It's like it's on the cusp of something exciting that is about to explode and we want to be part of that."
The h.Club will join several other co-working offices that have sprung up across Los Angeles County in recent years as a growing number of young entrepreneurs choose to share workspaces and support facilities with people who are not business colleagues. Most activity takes place in common spaces, not individual offices as was common with shared facilities in the past.
"It's taken the executive suites concept to a whole new level," real estate broker Chris Sinfield of Cushman & Wakefield said of co-working offices. "They're very hip, very modern and very collaborative as well, so it's an exciting place to work."
NeueHouse, a shared work facility and social club that opened in 2015 in the historic former CBS Radio Building on Sunset Boulevard, will compete with h.Club for Hollywood's roving creative class.
Brokerage CBRE Group estimates that there are now about 2.5 million square feet of co-working facilities in L.A. County. One of the largest companies serving entrepreneurs, freelancers and start-ups is WeWork, which has offices in a dozen Los Angeles-area locations including Hollywood.
Some co-working businesses such WeWork offer members designated desks or even offices if they don't want to roam. H.Club's plans so far call for communal workspaces only.
Co-working rents can be less than a typical office lease because less direct space is needed, conference rooms can be shared and amenities and furnishing are typically packaged into the price. Operators, meanwhile, can turn a profit because they charge more on a per-square-foot basis than the market rate by having multiple tenants sharing the same location.
"Done right, the co-working facility is an exiting place to work," Sinfield said. "It has an edge to it, and you don't have to spend a tremendous amount of capital to set up."