At long last, L.A. Convention Center to get adjacent hotels
By Laura Del Rosso around the convention center by KB Urban
and Anschutz Entertainment Group, which
Los Angeles may be the second-largest city entered into the deal with Marriott Inter-in the U.S. and the center of show business, national.
but when it comes to hosting conventions That entire complex, known as LA Live,
and meetings or drawing visitors to down- adjoins the convention center and the Sta-town hotels, Los Angeles ranks far below ples Center arena.
other cities in the western U.S. LA Live also will feature the 7,000-seat
That is about to change in the Nokia Theatre, the new venue for
next four years, according to Los the Latin Grammy Awards, the ESPY
Angeles travel industry officials. Awards and broadcast productions
This summer, ground was broken by ESPN, MTV, BET and VH1. It will
on a 1,000-room skyscraper that be made available for meetings and
will house a Ritz-Carlton and a JW convention events.
Marriott adjacent to the Los Ange- The complex also will include a
les Convention Center. large plaza for broadcasting events,
When the project is complete, a Grammy Museum, a nightclub and
the convention center will have an a 15-screen cinema designed to host
adjoining hotel for the first time. movie premieres.
While completion is years away, the The first phase of LA Live, the
project has already made it easier Nokia Theatre, is scheduled to open
for LA Inc., the city’s convention in 2007.
and visitors bureau, to sell conven- With all the construction, down-tions and meetings in Los Angeles. town Los Angeles is full of cranes
“We’re looking at a wholesale and much anticipation, Collins said.
shift in thinking about Los Ange- In addition to LA Live and the hotel
les,” said Michael Collins, LA Inc.’s tower, several residential projects are
executive vice president. nearing completion, promising to
In the fiscal year that ended in bring thousands of homeowners and
July, the bureau booked 299,000 fu- renters to downtown Los Angeles.
ture room nights, a jump from the Downtown has already become
previous year, when it booked only more vibrant and attractive to visi-
72,000 room nights. tors in recent years, Collins said.
“Our room-night production In 2003, the Walt Disney Concert
for citywide conventions has gone Hall, designed by architect Frank
up 300%,” Collins said. “The only Gehry, opened to acclaim.
thing that’s different is that we have And the Cathedral of Our Lady
a story to tell, and that is the de- of the Angels, the largest cathedral
velopment around the convention in the U.S., has become a much-vis-center.” ited downtown site since it opened in
Collins is predicting a 25% hike 2002.
in room nights booked by the bu- A rendering of the skyscraper that will be next to the Los Angeles Convention “There was always a migration that
reau in the coming year. Center. The building will house a JW Marriott and a Ritz-Carlton. characterized Los Angeles, and that
Los Angeles is currently the only was people moving outward from its
city in the western U.S. that does not have core,” Collins said.
a hotel connected to its convention center. “Now it is turning in the opposite direc-Its major competitors in California — San tion with the construction of lofts and mar-Diego, Anaheim and San Francisco — can ket-rate housing downtown. That has pro-all boast that conventioneers can walk from duced more restaurants and street life and
their hotels to their meetings. breeds a more user-friendly environment.
But in Los Angeles, conventioneers, even Four years ago, you could roll a bowling
those staying in downtown hotels, require ball down the streets during the weekends
transfer to the convention center by bus. and not hit anything. Now we’ve got lots of
“Los Angeles is a city that has enormous people spending more time downtown.”
appeal. We get 25 million visitors a year That makes the area more of a draw for
and had a record number last year,” Collins those planning meetings and conventions
said. “The world wants to come here, and as well as for business and leisure travelers
we have a marvelous convention center. But who in the past would have been likely to
there’s no way that you can get out of the stay in other parts of the city.
problem that we are the only city among “We will compete against Phoenix and
our competitors that requires a bus to get
you back to your hotel room.”
The $750 million project will produce
one of the largest buildings in Los Angeles,
at 2 million square feet and 54 stories high.
It will house a 124-room Ritz-Carlton, the
first five-star hotel downtown, and an 876-
room JW Marriott.
Seattle, as well as with Anaheim, San Francisco and San Diego,” Collins said.
“We’ve had a long dry spell and a rough
patch, but we’re on our way to creating a
branded product and a demonstrable place
to hold conventions and meetings.”
in downtown L.A.
The JW Marriott will have the largest
ballroom in Los Angeles, with capacity for
up to 3,000 seated guests.
The property will occupy the bottom 18
floors of the building. The Ritz-Carlton will
sit atop it, with an outdoor, rooftop swimming pool and a terrace above a two-story
lobby on the 24th floor. The top floors of
the tower will accommodate 216 condominiums, sold as Residences at Ritz-Carlton, with owners getting the services of the
The entire project is expected to open in
The tower is part of a $4.5 billion sports
and entertainment complex being built
The construction around the Los Angeles Convention Center is not the
only hotel development downtown. In
other hotel news:
• Gansevoort Hotel Group, which
opened the Hotel Gansevoort in
New York in 2004, is converting the
former Trinity Theater, a 1914 Beaux
Arts building that was once home to a
philharmonic orchestra, into the 170-
room Gansevoort West hotel.
The property is scheduled to open
in summer 2007. The hotel will have
two rooftop lounges connected by a
glass skybridge and a glass-bottom
pool above one of two restaurants.
• The Westin Bonaventure Hotel, a
downtown landmark, completed a
renovation of its 1,354 rooms in February.
• The 900-room Wilshire Grand Hotel is undergoing a $40 million renovation over the next four years, including rooms and public spaces, and an
expansion of convention space.
• The Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown, as part of a $10 million project,
renovated its lobby and completed an
upgrade of its 485 rooms and restaurant.
• The 453-room Omni Los Angeles
upgraded its presidential suite and
three junior suites.
• The lobby and 434 guest rooms at
the New Otani Hotel & Garden were
renovated this spring.
• The Los Angeles Marriott Downtown is upgrading its 469 rooms in
2006 and 2007.
• The 180-room Hilton Checkers,
a boutique hotel, renovated its rooftop deck and lounge and renamed it
Checkers Uptown. — L.D.R.
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