Council Denies Peninsula’s Appeal of Darrow Office Building Project

The restoration of the historic Darrow Office Building designed by master architect John Lautner will proceed at 9884 S. Santa Monica Blvd., much to the chagrin of its next-door neighbor The Peninsula Beverly Hills, which spent five months fighting the project.

This week, after a five-hour public hearing on Jan. 23 that stretched into the wee hours of Jan 24, the City Council denied the hotel’s appeal of the project, but added conditions to mitigate concerns about how the restoration would impact visitors’ enjoyment of the luxurious five-star hotel. 

“We want to accommodate both sides. We want The Peninsula to thrive and to be able to provide the great service that they always do to their clientele,” said City Councilmember Sharona Nazarian. “At the same time, I know that preserving the beauty of our city and historic environment is extremely important and we’re thankful that we have people who are trying to bring sustainability into this exciting project.”

The Peninsula was primarily concerned about how the addition of a third story with a roof terrace would impact its guests’ peace and privacy, but also fought the project on the grounds that it failed to meet city and state restoration standards. 

“Please don’t forget that the proposed rooftop space is not across the street, it is directly adjacent, it will share a wall with hotel villas and guests who are often on sleep schedules from another time zone,” said Victor De la Cruz, an attorney representing the hotel from the firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. “The Peninsula cannot have a nuisance situation developed here.”

While the City Council was sympathetic to the noise concerns, they sided with the Planning Department staff and Planning Commissioners, who deemed the project to be compliant with regulations and an exciting way to preserve a historic building.

“I think everybody agrees we will want this built as soon as possible,” said Councilmember Lili Bosse. “We would love that building to be built tomorrow.”

The new conditions imposed on the restoration project include limiting noisy construction to the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., a ban against smoking on the roof terrace, a ban against renting the roof terrace to third parties and a system for reporting and addressing noise complaints raised by hotel guests.

The project was first approved by the Planning Commission on July 13, 2023, and subsequently appealed by the Peninsula on July 26. 

Council encouraged both sides to find mutually agreeable conditions regarding the construction and use of the building. They advanced the appeal hearing date from Dec. 5 to Jan. 23 to provide more time for discussion. However, such an agreement did not come to fruition and the appeals hearing went forward as planned this week. 

The building itself was constructed in 1946 and is an exemplary model of Late Modern architecture, a style characterized by bold geometric shapes, exaggerated expressions of structure and industrial materials such as glass and concrete. This structure is particularly notable for its long horizontal louvers—angular slats that let in light—stacked on the exterior walls. 

The remodel will preserve all distinctive features of the building and add a third story with an outdoor roof deck. It was designed by renowned modern architect Hagy Belzberg, who also designed Holocaust Museum LA. 

Once complete, the office building will serve as the headquarters for Angeleno Group, an investment group that focuses on clean energy and climate solutions.

“We intend to make this building a place that you all could be proud to come visit and bring distinguished guests that come to the city to understand what is possible, is economic and architecturally beautiful with sustainable design and adaptive reuse,” said Yaniv Tepper, co-founder and managing partner of the Angeleno Group. 

He added that they are eager to be good neighbors. 

“We understand they operate a hotel, we really do,” said Tepper. “We want to ensure that their guests’ experience is maintained, and we believe that it can be.”