Thursday, July 10, 2008

Convention Center Marriott Tiptoes Forward



In an inconclusive show-and-tell session before the Historic Preservation Review Board on June 26th, Marriott International, Cooper Carry Architects, and EHT Traceries presented plans for the long-anticipated convention center hotel. During the informational presentation, the development team presented plans for a 1,100 plus room hotel at the corner of 9th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, NW, across from the Washington Convention Center.

The hotel, which will likely achieve LEED Silver Certification for its use of glass and brick, will take up the majority of the block, save the PEPCO power plant that supplies the White House with electricity, and the American Federation of Labor headquarters, a historic building that will remain. The hotel is intended to bring jobs and revenue to the city through traditionally high hotel taxes while serving Convention Center guests.

Norm Jenkins, Senior Vice President with Marriott International said the project was essential to the success of the existing Convention Center which has yet to meet city performance expectations.

"This is a great hotel site, but it's a tight hotel site, and we need to get 1100 plus rooms on the site in order to satisfy the needs of the Convention Center...the city sunk $850 million into this Convention Center several years ago and that project will never be optimized until you have this headquarter hotel," Jenkins said.

Laura Hughes of EHT Traceries raised the issue of the historic American Federation of Labor building on site and explained the history of the building, which was designed in 1915 and designated as historic in the 70's. State Historic Preservation Officer David Maloney cited the building as one of his staff's main points of interest in the project.

"I think the staff does not have any major concerns at all with what's been proposed. I think it's appropriate to expect that the facades of the historic building would be restored to their historic appearance, which I think it anticipated. The treatment of the public space in front of the building is also important...The other thing that's important about the historic building is integrating it with the hotel in a natural way...It's a small building relative to the size of the new hotel, so it's somewhat of a design problem to make it look as if it fits in a continuous streetscape..." Maloney said.

He added that the staff was concerned with how the design relates to the city and Massachusetts Avenue, the over 130 foot height of the project, the building being secondary to the Convention Center and the treatment of public space along Massachusetts Avenue.

"Mass Avenue, as you know, is one of the city's important L'Enfant boulevards. It is historically a residential boulevard really with green space in the front yards. And this building, because of its nature, has very difficult servicing requirements. But their staff, as well as the department of Transportation, have pushed the hotel folks to try their hardest to make sure that there is a sense of continuous green space maintained along Mass Avenue," Maloney said.

While the meeting concluded with accolades from staff members, the board still had questions about the building's width, appearance, and name.

"My last point, slightly in the jocular vein, is why do we use all of these aristocratic French revolutionary terms like marquis and Monaco? Wouldn't it be nice to have a democracy? I mean I'm not saying you name it The Log Splitter, but I mean, maybe the President..., said Chairman Terch Boasberg, to general laughter. The developer will return in the coming months for concept review and permitting.

Steven Siegel from the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development noted the urgency of the project and said the Mayor asks about its status each week. "He asks how the projects going. And every time I tell him the date of delivery, he says that's not soon enough. So we're all working very hard to make sure that this process moves forward smoothly. And, you know, it's obviously important to the success of the Convention Center to make sure that this hotel is delivered as quickly as possible and as soon as possible," he said.

The project is on the HPRB's July "List of Cases Filed for Consideration." A final agenda for the July 24th meeting will be available on July 18th. The Atlanta-based architects are also responsible for Bethesda Row and the National Gateway Hotel Complex in Arlington County.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Get this project moving! This is not your average project, where you can get all cutesy and take your sweet time with approvals. It's vital to the growth of the city. Every day that slips by is another day that the suburban Gaylord monstrosity gains an edge over the DCCC.

IMGoph on Jul 10, 2008, 2:47:00 PM said...

uncomfortable laughter, yes, but tersh (note the spelling) boasberg would most definitely love to mandate names if he could find a way to do it...

Anonymous said...

Well Marquis is a Marriott term/standard and they get to choose that so he can get over it. I'm pretty sure we have plenty of hotels named after Americans here in DC.

It's also ridiculous they are forcing the design to include that ugly plumbers union building on the corner. That needs to go. Something build 100 years ago is not historic by any standards, even America as short lived as she is. Get rid of it. It will look atrocious standing on the corner in front of a modern and new hotel.

Anonymous said...

The early 20th century union building on the corner isn't going anywhere as it's been designated historical. If anything needs to "go" it's the hideous Pepco substation. Also, it would be nice if the 12- or 13-story hotel was tapered on the upper floors, say 10 and up, along the side that faces Massachusetts Avenue. This would give the not-to-wide avenue and its street scape a more open feeling, and could, if handled properly, lead to a varied but pleasing facade. Also, dozens of stunning rooms and suites that feature balconies overlooking the city could be created. In time, these spaces may become coveted, and of course quite lucrative.

Mr. Q on Jul 11, 2008, 9:01:00 AM said...

What a joke. There has been NO sense of urgency about this hotel in the past 5+ years and doesn't appear to be any now...

9th Street and 7th Street outside the CC are both embarrassments to anyone that travels here...and DC will need a new CC by the time this hotel is completed...

Just keep discussing the "plans"...

Anonymous said...

Agreed! The hotel has actually been in discussion for going on 8 years now, though 8 years ago the idea was that it would be built on the old convention center site. Thankfully they swapped the land so that it is at least adjacent and will connect to the center.

The Pepco power station and the union building on the corner both need to go. To spend time designing a building a fantastic hotel and then wedge it between two awful buildings is typical DC crap. And spending time discussing the "green" of Mass Ave is a joke considering what they have allowed along Mass Avenue between 7th Street and Union Station. I don't think there is a single tree along that route. Either they want a world class city or they don't. Build the damn hotel and get it done. No wonder we have the highest taxation rate of any territory in the United States...the amount of time and money and energy wasted to get anything done because you have to pay off welfare programs and only use union labor is RIDICULOUS.

IMGoph on Jul 11, 2008, 11:31:00 AM said...

to the most recent anonymous poster (can't some of you people leave some kind of identifying mark as to who the heck you are?!?): you're right, lets just tear down everything and build what you want. that's a brilliant idea. history be damned, right? progess at all costs. i'm behind you all the way man. brilliant plan, i love it!

and that thing about DC having the highest taxation rate....quit throwing that canard around. it's been disproven time and again. you sound like the people who say, "DC was built on a swamp" there have been recent articles (done by ed lazere, i believe) that show that the property tax rate, for example, is lower in DC than both maryland and virginia.

if you're going to rant, back it up, eh?

Bud on Jul 11, 2008, 11:38:00 AM said...

Stir the pot Boog

monkeyrotica on Jul 11, 2008, 3:52:00 PM said...

Can they PLEASE open a Hot Shoppes in the Marriot? DC needs it some Might Mos and Teen Twists.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time the developers brought anything to the HPRB. What's taken the developers so long? The convention center will never deliver what was promised.

Anonymous said...

What's taken so long? Well, for one, it's a massive development that involved many separate deals, including land swaps and TIF financing, to name a couple. But basically, when looked at from all angles, the biggest hold up has been the money issue, that is how much the city would kick in.

Without city assistance, this project was going nowhere. Please remember that when talk of large convention HQ hotel began, the main debate was over whether is it really needed or not. That hurdle being surmounted, then came the issue of location, followed by the general uneasiness of developers to forge ahead on their own (the banks and financial entities were most certainly giving thumbs down). Finally, the DC gov people smelled that all was not well, and if they wanted a hotel, they needed to act, and soon, and that meant coming up with some money on the order of tens of millions, one way or another.

So this development became in part a public project. And, as anyone involved in development can attest, when the words "private/public" come together, the process slows down and considerable time can elapse. Is eight years too long to get this project off the ground? Yes, probably. Could the city have moved faster. Sure. But they've had a lot on the plate in recent years, namely the building of that structure in Southeast where the call "batter up" is heard.

Everything is in place now. Finally. It's time to get the shovels in the dirt. Does anyone know when groundbreaking is expected?

si on Jul 14, 2008, 11:11:00 AM said...

1st Q 2009
http://lifein.mvsna.org/index.cfm/2008/6/20/Marriott-Briefing-Update

http://my.opera.com/haldavitt/blog/show.dml/2251640

Anonymous said...

DC has a higher INCOME tax than any other territory in the United States. It's nearly twice Virginia's.

Nothing built in the 1900s should be considered historic. God, the next thing you know anything built will just be slapped historic and we can live in slums. This city makes it impossible to get anything done. That union building on the corner is one of the ugliest buildings in DC and there is nothing aesthetically historic about it. Period. It's old, that doesn't make it historic. And frankly, it's not even that old. There are people alive older than it. Tear it down and move on. No one is advocating tearing down the White House for an Archstone condiminium here. Get over it.

With height restrictions, I'm not sure where else you plan to have development to accmmodate a growing a vibrant city without tearing down a few ugly buildings rather than integrate nothing but the facade of them so that you feel better for it. Why do we need to keep it? Does not gutting and removing everything inside of it basically make the facade pointless? Especially considering the fact it will not fit into the design at all and will stick out like a sore thumb. I guess we should have slapped historic landmark on those Southeast strip joints that got torn down for the baseball stadium? Give me a break.

B said...

Declaring a building historic wouldn't be such a bad thing if the HPRB managed the designation with some selectivity and a little bit of reason.

In this case, they should be welcomed to comment on the preservation of the site tagged as historic, but should have NO voice regarding the new building. No one is going to build a modern hotel with that many keys for a CC that "blends" with a 100 year old building that isn't really worthy of historic preservation anyway. HPRB is nothing more than a collection of glorified art history students who have no business commenting on modern design and construction, yet they manage to do so. They simply lack the ability to see big picture so they just slow down every process they inject themselves into. I've sat in more of these meetings than I can stand and the power this group wields is eye-popping. It is unfortunate, because in the beginning, the creation of the HPRB was well-intentioned but over time have lost focus of the intent of their group and operate like they are the last line of defense against the savage beast developers.

And the mayor probably does want to get this deal done ASAP, but he doesn't ave the ability to make it happen as long as there are individuals who take time in meetings like this to discuss whether or not they like the name of the building. DC is a city of complacency and bureaucracy.

My $.02.

 

DCmud - The Urban Real Estate Digest of Washington DC Copyright © 2008 Black Brown Pop Template by Ipiet's Blogger Template