A long-planned renovation of the San Vicente Inn is set to finally begin on Nov. 28.
Jeff Klein, owner of the Sunset Tower hotel on Sunset Boulevard, bought the property in 2013 and then embarked on a lengthy and arduous process of preparing it for renovation. R.D. Olson Construction has notified neighbors of the inn that construction will begin Nov. 28 and likely will be completed in 18 months.
Klein plans to convert the existing 29-unit motel into an “urban inn” with a total of 32 rooms and a restaurant and off-site parking while preserving the historic character of the existing buildings. The inn’s three buildings on the west side of San Vicente Boulevard north of Santa Monica and the stand-alone Victorian structure on a lot across the street have been designated local cultural historical resources as part of the Old Sherman Thematic Group. That group takes its name from the period in the late 1800s and early 1900s when Moses Sherman, a railroad developer, created the community of Sherman where West Hollywood now lies.
Before Klein purchased the property in 2013, the San Vicente Inn had become known as a center of prostitution and illegal drug use. He already has revamped it, ending its “clothing optional” policy and evicting meth dealers who once stayed there. The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station has reported a dramatic reduction in calls about crimes at that location since Klein’s purchase.
The project is somewhat unusual in that it has won the support of most of its neighboring residents and business owners and preservation activists. They rallied at a City Council meeting in February 2015 to contest an appeal against the Planning Commission’s approval of the project. “In the 14 years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen an appeal unite all the disparate elements of the community like this,” John Duran said at that meeting.
The appeal, which was denied by the City Council, was brought by Neighborhood Planning Services (NPS). Neighborhood Planning Support Inc. (NPS) asked that the Council require an environmental impact report as a condition of approving the project. It cited a number of alleged problems with the project, the facts of which were contradicted by a study conducted by the city’s Community Development Department and an outside consultant.
The president of NPS, Mitch Carson, has been involved in a number of such appeals against development projects, which often are settled by the developer with a payment to NPS — a process that some call “greenmail.” Carson claimed that he represented a West Hollywood resident who opposed the project, but refused to identify that resident.