The little tin roadhouse on the Sunset Strip may soon get a lot bigger.
Landlords for the House of Blues obtained a $14.8-million bridge loan last week to help fund a hoped-for expansion of the popular West Hollywood nightclub.
Their proposed $60-million development would include 125 apartments or condominiums and 35,000 square feet of boutique-style shops. A 700-space underground garage would provide public parking for one of Southern California's most congested night-life districts.
Gold Mountain Enterprises of Calabasas, which owns the 2-acre complex at Sunset Boulevard and Olive Drive, hopes to receive approval from the city of West Hollywood in time to start construction by spring, said Mike Minder, managing partner.
Plans call for substantially enlarging the 30,000-square-foot nightspot founded in 1994 by Texas nightclub impresario Isaac Tigrett, actor-comedian Dan Aykroyd and other investors.
The hillside property that once belonged to matinee idol John Barrymore also contains a nine-unit apartment building and a restaurant that once was part of the actor's guesthouse. Those buildings would be razed to make way for the project.
The three-story Sunset Strip nightspot is the flagship of the seven clubs operated by Hollywood-based House of Blues Entertainment Inc. To bring a taste of the Deep South to the nightclub district popularized by generations of Los Angeles rock bands, the builders imported corrugated siding from a former cotton gin in Clarksdale, Miss. Founder Tigrett also had two truckloads of Delta dirt dug up and installed under the main stage.
The dirt came from the very spot where, it is said, legendary bluesman Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil, who granted the guitarist fame and genius -- and eternal torment. The blues metaphor of torment also may extend to parking at the club, which Minder of Gold Mountain acknowledges is "a nightmare on Friday and Saturday nights."
Enlarging the 1,500-person-capacity nightclub and restaurant would allow the House of Blues to book bigger, hotter musical acts, said David Rifkind of GSP/Rifkind Capital Advisors of Los Angeles, who arranged the bridge loan.
"This particular venue is an obsolete format, and they need to bring it up to their current standard," said Rifkind, who has arranged financing for the Whisky a Go Go, the Key Club and other nightclubs in the area.
The project's designers are GMP Architects of Santa Monica.