Exclusive Q&A: Wanda Group's Rohan a'Beckett Discusses One Beverly Hills
With the former Robinsons-May site being rebranded as One Beverly Hills, Wanda Group deputy GM Rohan a’Beckett is at the helm of the project to make it a one-of-a-kind property. Rohan is one of the panelists scheduled to take to the stage at the Bisnow Annual Construction and Development Forum on Aug. 11, at the Montage Beverly Hills.
One Beverly Hills, at 9900 Wilshire Blvd, aims to raise the bar when it comes to residential living not just in Beverly Hills but across LA. Bisnow recently caught up with Rohan (pictured with his wife, Nicole, and daughter, Zelle) to discuss the latest on One Beverly Hills and what will make the development so unique.
Bisnow: Why were you initially interested in working for the Wanda Group?
Rohan a’Beckett: The Wanda Group reached out to me at the end of 2012 following its successful acquisition of the AMC Cinema chain. They wanted someone to help them expand their investments in the US, both in real estate development and in additional corporate M&A activities.
At that point in time, the Wanda name was relatively unknown in the US, but very familiar to me given the seven years I spent living in China. I knew the group would have strong ambition and the framework in place to execute. It was an exciting prospect to embark upon, and 3.5 years in, it is clear they have not only successfully delivered on that ambition, but it has even gone further beyond anything I originally envisioned.
Bisnow: What is the Wanda Group's strategy?
Rohan a’Beckett: I can only speak about the group’s strategy and activity as it relates to One Beverly Hills, on the former Robinson's May site in Beverly Hills. I led the team that acquired that property back in the summer of 2014, and have transitioned into the development team to carry the project forward. Our strategy here is to amend the current zoning on the land, which was approved in 2008 for 235 luxury condos, by making an application to the City of Beverly Hills to approve the replacement of 42 condo units with a 134-room luxury boutique hotel. We submitted this request back in June 2015.
The city has prepared a Supplemental EIR to assess the impacts of this change, and the final version of that Supplemental EIR will be published shortly. We are optimistic we can complete our city review and approval process within this calendar year.
Bisnow: Can you give us an update on One Beverly Hills and its progress, including when construction will begin?
Rohan a’Beckett: Should we be successful in obtaining city approval this year to make the revisions we are requesting, we will be looking to commence construction early in 2017. The construction period will be around three years. We will be conducting a pre-sales campaign for the condo units, which will commence in mid-2017.
The units themselves will be remarkable. There is nothing else like them on the market now. The size of the site we have to work with, the incredible design from the team at Richard Meier & Partners LA, the thorough landscaping and amenities throughout the development, coupled with the view from the property, will all combine to make One Beverly Hills the most sought-after residences not just in Beverly Hills, but throughout Southern California.
Bisnow: What other projects is the Wanda Group working on in Southern California?
Rohan a’Beckett: No other real estate projects at this stage. Our office is set up with the sole purpose to develop One Beverly Hills. Any other investment decisions are driven out of our headquarters office in Beijing.
Bisnow: There's a lot of talk now about the next recession and when it may come. What do you think the future of our industry looks like?
Rohan a’Beckett: It is certainly very active right now. I won’t comment on the phase of the cycle, but I will say that the amount of development activity across greater Los Angeles is incredible. So many pockets of the city are going through a tremendous revitalization, and we hope One Beverly Hills can be included in that activity, as we believe it will provide Beverly Hills with its next iconic architectural landmark.
Bisnow: What do you like to do in your personal life outside of work?
Rohan a’Beckett: I happily have my hands full when I’m not in the office with my 9-month-old baby girl, Zelle. My wife, Nicole, and I are loving the new addition to our family. As an avid music fan, in the summer now I enjoy the Hollywood Bowl season, as well as other live music events all throughout the city. I’m looking forward to the Olympics coming up. And I’m excited to turn my attention later in the year towards training for the 2017 LA Marathon.
See Rohan and our other all-star panelists at the Bisnow LA Annual Construction and Development Forum at 7:30 am Aug. 11 at the Montage Beverly Hills. Sign up here.