Trusthouse Forte, the London-based hotel and catering conglomerate that has two lords among its 14 directors, is apparently as fearless as it is venerable.
Despite the failure during the past few years of several well-heeled hotel interests, including the Canadian-based Four Seasons, to build in Beverly Hills, Trust-house Forte, which only recently entered the U. S. market, is looking into it.
The British company has been considering a site, as yet unidentified, that would have to go through the city's hotel approval process. A Beverly Hills official, who spoke only on condition of remaining anonymous, said, "I don't know if anybody has the staying power to hang in through that anymore."
Only one of many hotels proposed during the past 10 years in Beverly Hills looks as if it will be built, although its plans are still moving along city channels. It's the 200-room Belevedere, at Little Santa Monica and Lasky Drive. Pete Kempf, one of the developers, expects construction to start either at the end of the last quarter of this year or the beginning of next year. Total cost: "over $90 million."
About a year ago, Trusthouse Forte executives had what Kempf described as "some conversations" with him and his associates, but he said last week, "What they are undertaking in Beverly Hills does not involve us." A hotel operator has not been selected yet for the Belevedere.
Trusthouse Forte's New York-based subsidiary owns as well as operates TraveLodge, Viscount and Trusthouse Forte Exclusive Hotels. Last December, it purchased the 200-room Queens Bay Hilton in Long Beach and plans to build a 250-room TraveLodge next door.
If Trusthouse Forte decides not to build a hotel in Beverly Hills, it plans to buy one there that will be on a par with its most exclusive properties in London, Paris, New York, Geneva and Madrid.
That leaves few existing Beverly Hills properties, and a couple of them have been purchased only recently. Most memorable was the sale last year of the Beverly Hills Hotel to oilman Marvin Davis and the sale the year before of the Beverly Wilshire to Regent International of Hong Kong.
Both hotels have been undergoing major renovations. So has the Beverly Hilton.
Interesting postscript: The owner of the Beverly Hilton, Hilton Hotels Corp., attempted unsuccessfully in December to buy the Hilton International hotel chain. Trusthouse Forte was another loser in that bid.
If you were wondering what happened to the proposed Four Seasons Beverly Hills hotel site, that property--at Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard--is still owned and occupied by American Savings, which owned it long before the ill-fated Four Seasons plan was conceived. (See story on Page 1.)
The American Savings parcel, which has some small stores and a parking lot as well as the S&L branch, is still for sale, but at what price? Layna Browdy, a spokeswoman for American Savings, wouldn't say. Only: "We're not disclosing the price, and there is no concerted effort to sell it."
No wonder it's been on the market for years.
The opening of the Four Seasons Los Angeles prompted this from Jeff Hyland, president of the Beverly Hills Board of Realtors:
"The city (of Beverly Hills) made a big mistake by not letting the Four Seasons build here. Now we have a swank Four Seasons across the street. So Los Angeles gets the bed taxes, and we get the traffic."
Lyle Alzado's Palos Verdes house will be open for tours Tuesday through May 17 as the 13th annual Design House of the Sandpipers, a South Bay women's philanthropic organization.
Since he retired from the L.A. Raiders in 1985, the former defensive end has been on TV's "The Tonight Show," "The Fall Guy," "Amazing Stories" and "Riptide."
His Palos Verdes home has 22 rooms in 8,500 square feet of interior space on an acre with ocean and city views. About 25 designers added their touches to the house. Among them, Gary Sandlin designed a room showcasing many of Alzado's football memorabilia, including his trophy for "1977 Defensive Player of the Year."
Tours for groups of five or more, with reservations, will be given through next Friday. Then, starting the following Tuesday, donations of $10 a person will be collected at the door, at 1696 Via Coronel. The house will be closed Mondays. More details: 378-7730.
Bel-Air will soon get an Irvine Ranch Farmers Market--No. 12 in the Costa Mesa-based specialty-food market chain.
The market will anchor a two-story, 33,355-square-foot shopping center and food court expected to open in August at 640 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Fine Developments Inc. will build the project with $10.575 million in construction financing provided by First Interstate Mortgage Co.'s Income Property Division in Pasadena.