The founders of the Montage luxury hotel chain intend to crack the high-end residential market in West Hollywood with the company’s hipper Pendry brand condominiums under construction on the famed Sunset Strip.
The Pendry Residences West Hollywood, which just hit the market, are part of a more than $500-million complex being built on the former site of the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard that will include a splashy Pendry hotel intended to pamper a showbiz clientele.
Pendry’s expansion is just one of several large-scale real estate developments in recent years that are transforming the Strip into an even more upscale enclave than before with the addition of hundreds of pricey new hotel rooms, apartments, restaurants and clubs.
The evolution of the Pendry site is emblematic of the change, having entered public awareness as the home of actor John Barrymore, then becoming a popular restaurant location for decades before giving way to the House of Blues nightclub in the 1990s. The club known to passersby for its tin shack facade closed in 2015 to make way for the Pendry project.
Montage’s goal is to create a buzzing, Strip-worthy hotel facing the boulevard with 40 relatively secluded residences in separate buildings behind it stretching south to Fountain Avenue, where residents will have their own entrance. The complex is set to open next summer.
People who live at the Pendry can dine and play at the hotel, which will have a 200-seat music venue, or retreat to their own small neighborhood where some units will have sprawling landscaped terraces, private swimming pools and outdoor kitchens, Montage Hotels & Resorts founder Alan J. Fuerstman said.
“It’s like having a Hollywood Hills-style home right on Sunset,” he said.
Laguna Beach-based Montage Hotels is banking on the type of reception its Montage residences got in Beverly Hills, where there is a waiting list for resales of the 20 units completed in 2008.
The last two properties sold there commanded nearly $4,000 a square foot, a top-level price for Los Angeles-area condos, said Tina Necrason, who is in charge of Montage’s residential arm. “We know there is demand.”
At the Pendry, prices will start at $3 million, or more than $1,000 a square foot, for a 2,900-square-foot unit. The biggest residences hit 6,000 square feet and have 3,400-square-foot terraces, but the developers declined to reveal their prices.
The growth of hotel-connected residences is an international phenomenon, according to a report last month by London real estate services company Savills. A record number of hotel-branded complexes have opened so far this year, delivering more than 9,000 units in 21 countries, with even more expected in 2020.
“Globally mobile, brand-conscious, wealthy individuals are attracted by quality design, security and the level of service branded residences offer,” Savills said.
Los Angeles has trailed other international cities in building hotel-connected residences, but others are in the works besides Pendry.
The Four Seasons Private Residences complex is nearing completion across 3rd Street from the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. In Century City, Fairmont-branded units will be included in the renovated Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel set to open next year.
“There is a big gap in branded living in L.A. compared to other markets,” said Warren Wachsberger, managing director of Aecom Capital, a partner in the development of Montage’s $3.2-billion real estate portfolio. Beverly Hills real estate services company Combined Properties is also a partner in the Pendry project designed by Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects.
Common amenities for residents of branded condominiums include optional hotel perks such as maid visits and room service. Food at the Pendry will be provided by Los Angeles chef Wolfgang Puck, who broke out on the Sunset Strip with the opening of his Spago restaurant there in 1982.
About 80% or more of the Pendry buyers are expected to be people who already live within a six-mile radius, perhaps with careers in music or other entertainment fields.
“People are recognizing that the kids have moved out and I’ve got this huge home in the hills,” Wachsberger said. They may enjoy hotel services and find a condo more convenient to leave behind when they travel.
The 149-room hotel will be the third Pendry in a growing chain intended to attract a young-thinking clientele by melding elements of traditional luxury hotels with elements of boutique “lifestyle” hotels that are unique to their neighborhoods.
In addition to the live entertainment venue, the Pendry will have Puck restaurants, a rooftop bar, a screening room, a bowling alley, a spa and a private membership club called the Britely for people in creative fields. Suites at the hotel will be wired to accommodate Hollywood press junkets, where media members interview stars of upcoming movie and television releases.
The Sunset Strip area is seeing an influx of hotels including 1 Hotel West Hollywood, Kimpton La Peer Hotel and West Hollywood Edition, part of a Marriott International brand conceived by lifestyle hotelier Ian Schrager that opened last month. The new competition will push up vacancy rates, hotel consultant Bruce Baltin said, but overall “the market is doing well absorbing it.”
Travelers in the fields of “entertainment, design and advertising all tend to like West Hollywood as a market,” said Baltin of CBRE. “It’s upscale but very active.”
The average room rate in West Hollywood is expected to top $300 a night this year, up from less than $265 in 2014, according to CBRE.
The billions of dollars’ worth of real estate development in recent years and in the pipeline is changing the character of the street long associated with a raw music scene at such venues as the Roxy Theatre and Whiskey a Go Go. Tower Records, a longtime mecca for fans and artists, closed in 2006. Velvet ropes and bottle service in clubs have damped the egalitarian vibe the Strip was known for over the decades starting in the 1960s.
Los Angeles historian Alison Martino, who grew up near the Sunset Strip and traveled it often with her father, singer Al Martino, said she is troubled by the scale of recent development, which she compared to Las Vegas, compounded by the shift in advertising from painted billboards to bright digital displays.
“Once they knock down the smaller structures, no one is going to have anywhere to walk except to another hotel,” she said.
But to developers such as Montage and other supporters of growth, new properties are enhancing the Sunset Strip by bringing more people and activity.
A two-block residential, retail and hotel complex at Sunset and La Cienega Boulevard that was completed in 2017 was “a game changer,” Wachsberger said, that gave the Strip “a walkability that didn’t exist in the past.”
Residents and visitors can stroll the bright boulevard or dip down a block south into a comparatively quiet residential neighborhood, he said. “You get the best of both worlds.”