WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - The legendary Viper Room on West Hollywood's iconic Sunset Strip, home to the biggest acts in the music world, is set to be redeveloped into a 12-story mixed-use building.
"It breaks my heart, totally. I think I’m not the only musician [hurt by this]. Everybody I’ve met through the years knows this place," says Gordo, a musician from Portland in town for a music gig.
It’s the same reaction from Guitarist Gilby Clarke, a member of Guns and Roses from 1991 to 1996. Clarke says the band played at the Viper Room more than 50 times. "For me, the Viper Room was an iconic Los Angeles rock and roll place. You know, it was small, I mean, I believe it held under 200 people," Clarke said.
The Viper Room was established by co-owner Johnny Depp in 1993. That same year, River Phoenix died of a drug overdose right outside the club. Phoenix's death was a tragedy that brought fans and music lovers closer to the nightclub. But in the near future, the Viper Room, as people currently know it, will be gone and replaced by a new massive project.
Elyse Eisenberg, Chair of the West Hollywood Heights Neighborhood Association, said she believes the high-rise will have "too much going on," that's set to be home to a hotel, 113 rooms, 40 residences, and a rooftop restaurant. She also noted the new development will be problematic for the strip. "Everything is going to be backlogged, it’ll take 40 to 50 minutes to get into the property.," she said.
While the developer plans on having its own Viper Room on the new premises, musicians say it simply won’t be the same.
"It sucks! We’re losing the Viper Room. It's a great club, it's a great venue, a great place to play," Clarke said.
The proposed development still needs to go through the West Hollywood Planning Department. The city is waiting for the Environmental Impact Report.
For rock and roll fans and residents, there is still plenty of time to voice concern to the West Hollywood City Council as part of the public process.
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