Bernard Arnault, the world’s richest man, has given up on plans to build a luxury hotel on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills after locals voted down the proposal over fears it would drive up the cost of living while worsening traffic congestion.
Arnault, the French mogul whose fortune as of Monday was valued at $193 billion by Bloomberg Billionaires Index, derives his wealth from his massive stake in multinational luxury conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Last year, his proposal to build the Cheval Blanc, a 109-room, nine-story hotel equipped with a members-only club, restaurants, retail space, and a spa, won zoning approval from city officials who hoped Arnault would make Beverly Hills the first US city to boast the luxury brand.
There are currently Cheval Blanc in Paris, St. Tropez, Courchevel in the French Alps, St. Bart’s, and the Madlves.
A room at Cheval Blanc Paris can cost up to $7,200 a night.
Arnault’s plan for the Beverly Hills site reportedly included a mammoth structure that was taller and double the size of what was originally permitted at the site — sparking local opposition, according to Commercial Observer.
The news site reported that some 7,005 votes were counted.
Voters were asked two questions — whether Beverly Hills should approve a zoning amendment allowing the hotel to be built at double the size of what is permitted and whether they would approve of the development and tax agreement.
On the first question, the nays won out by just 123 votes.
The second question was voted down by 125 votes, according to Commercial Observer.
An updated vote tally is expected on Tuesday — with final certification of the results scheduled for Friday.
LVMH had agreed to contribute $28 million to the city if the project was approved.
Beverly Hills would also have received an additional 4% surcharge on top of the 14% transient occupancy tax that hotels normally pay.
If the hotel was approved, it would have been forecast to generate around $725 million in tax revenue over the next 30 years.
LVMH has also agreed to reimburse Beverly Hills for the cost of holding the special election.
“We oppose the monolithic Cheval Blanc Hotel project because it is just too big and tall for our village,” according to leaflets distributed by opponents of the plan who call themselves “Residents Against Overdevelopment.”
The “Yes on B&C Campaign,” a lobbying group backed by LVMH, conceded defeat.
“If the final vote count confirms the voters’ rejection of our project, we will respect the outcome, and will not bring the hotel project back in any form,” the group said in a statement.