China’s richest man has been working hard at making himself a global player in the last few years, but now Wang Jianlin has taken things to the next level by deciding to spend $1.2 billion to make himself a star in Hollywood. At least a star of the real estate scene.
In a statement on Friday, the property tycoon’s Dalian Wanda announced that it had beaten out ten other bidders to acquire a site at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, only ten minutes walk from Rodeo Drive and adjacent to the Los Angeles Country Club.
The company stated that it intends to invest $1.2 billion on the project, but did not reveal the consideration paid to acquire the site which formerly was home to the Robinson’s-May department store. A previously approved project, the rights to which were apparently included with the sale, had been designed to build 235 condos and 21,000 square feet (1,950 square metres) of ground floor retail on the site. Demolition has already begun on the former department store, which had closed several years ago.
Wanda Stepping into Hollywood
According to the company, “The Los Angeles project will serve as the Wanda Group’s first important step into Hollywood,” and this latest deal only confirms Wanda’s shift from being primarily a retail mall and theatre developer in China to becoming an international conglomerate investing in entertainment, hotels and other areas.
The new project will include setting up a Los Angeles office to handle entertainment sector investments for Wanda, while other US investments will be routed through its New York office. In 2012 Wanda invested $800 million to acquire US theatre chain AMC.
Signifying the growing ties between China and Hollywood, Wanda said that its “Los Angeles project is expected to aid in China’s entry into Hollywood’s film industry and generally promote Chinese culture abroad.”
In its home market, Wanda has also taken aim at the entertainment business by launching a plan for an $8.3 billion Qingdao movie studio and production base, as well as a strategy for developing ten new theme parks across China.
$2 Billion in US Investments within One Month
By announcing its Hollywood project on Friday, Wanda has now committed more than $2 billion to US real estate projects within just one month.
In early July the developer reportedly acquired a site in Chicago to develop a $900 million mixed-use residential, hotel and commercial complex.
At the time of the Chicago investment, Wang Jianlin, said, “Wanda’s investment in this construction project is only our first step into the Chicago real estate market and in property investment in the US.”
The tycoon, who last year was estimated to be China’s richest man with a fortune of $14.8 billion added at the time that, “Within one year, Wanda will invest in five-star hotels in more US cities, including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Last year, Wanda already signed an agreement for a $1 billion hotel project in New York.