Jet-setting British developers are set to lose their prized real estate on a prime stretch of Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills on Friday as a bank controlled by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim completes a foreclosure.
The property slipping away from brothers Nicholas and Christian Candy is the site of the former Robinsons-May department store at 9900 Wilshire Blvd., next door to the Beverly Hilton Hotel at the boulevard's intersection with Santa Monica Boulevard.
The Candy brothers, who planned to develop condominiums and a hotel, made headlines in 2007 when they bought the eight-acre parcel for $500 million. The jaw-dropping sum made the transaction one of the largest in the history of Los Angeles County.
Local real estate observers had trouble making sense of the price because the seller, Beverly Hills-based New Pacific Realty Corp., had paid $33.5 million for the property three years earlier. The Candys, though, had a track record of building super-premium residences for the mega-wealthy.
"Candy & Candy in the U.K. is what Tiffany is to jewelry here," Laurie Lustig-Bower of brokerage CB Richard Ellis said at the time. "Therefore, they believe they will achieve record prices for their condos."
But the real estate market has changed dramatically for the worse in recent years. Still, Lustig-Bower said Thursday, "I do believe that this is a great piece of real estate."
Now, Christian Candy's CPC Group is in default on a $365.5-million loan from lenders controlled by Slim's Banco Inbursa, according to court documents.
A subsidiary of CPC Group is expected to transfer title to the lenders Friday, sources told Bloomberg News. Nicholas Candy confirmed in an e-mail that he expected to relinquish title to the site Friday.
CPC Group is best known for One Hyde Park in Central London, where buyers of the expensive flats included Russian oligarchs, oil barons, Saudi princes and A-list movie stars, according to the English press.
When they bought the Beverly Hills property, the Candys said they would proceed with the previous owner's plans to raze the empty department store and build a condominium and retail complex designed by Richard Meier, architect of the Getty Center.
The city approved the project in 2008. Later that year, with condo sales stalling and financing sources drying up, the Candys said they hoped to incorporate a five-star hotel into the design by eliminating some of the 235 approved condos.