The Viper Room, the rock club once partially owned by Johnny Depp, could become Hollywood history if a new buyer decides to develop the property. The club and several adjacent buildings along the Sunset Strip, totalling 38,000 square feet, have been sold for $80 million to a buyer known simply as 8850 Sunset.
There are currently no plans to demolish the existing storefronts, but new buildings in the area are typically five to 10 stories high. Jim Cooper of REM Finance, a rep for the buyer, told the Los Angeles Business Journal, “There’s not a development plan in place.”
“They’re looking to see what the highest and best use would be,” Cooper said.
The Viper Room started out as a jazz club called the Melody Room that was said to be frequented by Bugsy Siegel and Mickey Cohen, and was known as the Central in the ’70s and ’80s.
River Phoenix died after suffering a fatal overdose there on Oct. 31, 1993, the same year it first opened as the Viper Room with owners including Depp. It became a hangout for young stars including Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. Acts who have performed there include Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who played on opening night, Johnny Cash, Courtney Love, and the Strokes. Depp sold his interest in the club in 2004.
The Sunset Strip area is experiencing a massive development boom, with hotels including the Jeremy, the Edition, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s planned Arts Club going up along the famed boulevard.