The new owner is a Chinese hotel operator known for scooping up historic properties
When the seven-acre site in Hollywood that holds the beloved Yamashiro restaurant and several other structures hit the market in October 2014 (asking an undisclosed amount of money), there was a worry that new owners might try to shake things up. Though the property was marketed as a possible development opportunity, with potential to build anything from housing to a school, it’s just sold to a Chinese hotel operator “known for refurbishing historic properties on its home turf,” reports the LA Times.
The great news to pretty much everyone is that new owners JE Group plan to fix up the Yamashiro restaurant, small hotel, apartments, and other buildings on the site, but not make any big changes. The chairman of JE Group tells the Times through an interpreter that “new construction would not be ‘appropriate.'” JE paid “nearly $40 million” for the Yamashiro spread.
The preservation-oriented buyers seem to be the best of the bunch; another bidder—a group from Italy—wanted to transform the property into “a private club and fashion runway.” A tech mogul wanted to use the site as a home base for a think tank.
The Yamashiro restaurant and its surrounding grounds were completed in 1914 by a pair of brothers who used them as a giant display palace for their Asian art collections. There’s also a 600-year-old pagoda, the Hollywood Hills Hotel and Apartments, a former private residence, and some older structures on the seven-acre plot.
Though the apartments and restaurant will continue to operate as apartments and a restaurant, there might be a changing of the guard in management at Yamashiro—JE Group’s chairman says the company is in talks with current restaurant operators, but may bring in new ones.
Before the property’s most recent turn on the market, it was for sale in 2007. Back then, the property covered 10 acres and included the adjacent Magic Castle, the private club for magicians. The 2014 listing, three acres smaller, did not include the club.
The most recent listing seems to have split the collection of family members who own the property. A short documentary about the listing explores this from the point of view of Tom Glover, a son of Thomas O. Glover, the man who bought Yamashiro and the surrounding property in 1948, and whose family has controlled the land since then. In the film, the younger Glover and his own son, Carlos Ulloa, detail how a majority of the family (“11 or 13” of them, also Glover’s relatives) were forcing the sale.