Thursday, September 30, 2010

Groundwork Gets Underway at Convention Center Marriott


Construction crews could begin preliminary groundwork as early as next week for the Convention Center's newest addition, the 1,175-room, 15-story Marriott Marquis, a project headed by Quadrangle Development and Capstone Development. The Washington Convention & Sports Authority (WCSA) announced earlier today that it will provide limited early access in order for developers to orchestrate initial site remediation work including: "removal of underground storage tanks, demolition of the Erhlich Building, erecting fences, placing signage around the site and readying the area for construction."

A more ceremonial and celebratory start to construction will soon follow, says Gregory A. O’Dell, Washington Convention and Sports Authority President. "The Authority and the District are finalizing the documentation and preparing to close on the bonds as we anticipate a groundbreaking within the next 30-45 days," he explains. Once construction begins, a build-out of 42 months is anticipated, placing the delivery date in the spring of 2014. While this is not the official groundbreaking, convention center authority spokeswoman Chinyere Hubbard confirms that this is indeed the beginning of construction and an indication of nothing but green lights going forward. There are "no further legal obstacles", says Hubbard, who notes that the WCCA board will officially approve the financing bonds tomorrow.

The soon to be active construction site is bounded by Massachusetts Avenue and L Streets, NW. Because of District height limitations, the massive hotel is burying much it's square footage beneath the earth, so the first order of business for contractors is to dig a giant hole and start building back up to ground level. Progress above ground might not be visible for almost a year after construction starts. Upon completion, the building will feature over 100,000 s.f. of meeting and ballroom space, 25,000 sf of retail, and 385 parking spaces. The plan also calls for a below grade tunnel (vehicle and pedestrian) connecting the hotel and Convention Center. The hotel will become only the third Marquis in the country. Developers and District officials hope the already impressive Convention Center will be a world-wide attraction now that an accompanying state-of-the-art, large-scale hotel is on the way.

Last year, Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the New Convention Center Hotel Amendments Act of 2009 that authorized Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and the issuance of bonds, to fund up to $206m in construction and operational costs. Private developers will pick up the remaining portion of the estimated $550 million total cost. With JBG's spat over the project and ensuing lawsuit now ended, today's announcement means the project is officially moving forward.

Washington DC real estate development news

13 comments:

Sivad said...

The word boring comes to mind.

Critically Urban on Oct 1, 2010, 12:54:00 AM said...

The phrase, "why don't you lobby Congress to lift the height limit if you think short is boring", comes to mind.

Joseph said...

Well its pretty hard to say 'boring' from this rendering. The glass canopy over the central courtyard could be very appealing, but the building will of course cling to its outermost borders, so its shape is predetermined, nothing wrong with that. And the exterior may be well enough thought out to make it more than a wall, but its all about the streetfront and what they will do there. Imagine if Mass Ave had some retail frontage? That might make it more than a hideously traffic-clogged parking lot 12 hours of the day.

Murphy said...

@ Critically Urban:

The original commenter didn't say the design was boring because it's not tall, he said it's boring. Taller does not necessarily equate to better. That's the problem with so many architects who design in the District. They assume that the height limit limits them creatively, so rather than understanding the context of the place, they simply punt and make shorter versions of the same timid, bland crap. Height is not a substitute for imagination and creative thinking. Look at some of the buildings that Shalom Baranes and Esocoff & Associates are doing, and then tell me if you still think the height limit is the problem.

Critically Urban on Oct 1, 2010, 11:14:00 AM said...

Murphy: I took a chance and assumed the first commented didn't understand the economics of the site and the already incredibly varied use of modern materials and designs along the facade and the roof. Taller DEFINITELY does not equal better. For this site, if Mr. Boring already thinks the design is boring, well then it must be because it's too short to apply the type of varied and interesting architecture he craves. Since the architects here have already (arguably) used their skill to the best of their ability within the constraints of having to squeeze every last drop of density out of the site, the only way to vary shape setbacks and overall structure would be to build...wait for it...taller. That is an overall issue for downtown DC's architecture, or lack thereof in most cases.

Big Green Cat said...

42 months?!?!?!?!?!?!

On another note, will the underground tunnel connect directly to the Convention Center Metro Station? Considering the access to the station (i.e. inside the station when facing the escalators going up, the wall to the right seems like it could be blown out and provide an underground corridor to the hotel...just a thought).

Anonymous said...

@ murphy

so are you suggesting that the work escoff and shalom is doing is good? ummm....

their work has pioneered boring architecture here for the past 15+ years, thank you very much.

Sivad said...

Murphy understood. "Timid and bland" like most building projects in DC. Of course I wish the height limit was raised, but that's not the point. The Wilson Bridge might be the most advanced bascule bridge in the world, but architecturally it is mundane and forgettable. When will we get a Walt Disney Concert Hall or a Beijing Aquatics Center? None of these buildings are tall but are some of the most memorable and stunningly designed buildings in the world. This hotel is more of the same old plain DC design.

Anonymous said...

"Developers and District officials hope the already impressive Convention Center will be a world-wide attraction now that an accompanying state-of-the-art, large-scale hotel is on the way."

Makes me shake my head. These enormous and bland buildings create cold sterile experiences for the pedestrian. Limestone in and of itself doesn't make a building good nor does it create a successful relationship with the street. The DC Convention Center being a " world-wide attraction"... spare me.

Anonymous said...

An underground tunnel connecting the hotel and convention center? I thought the purpose of boondoggles like the Convention Center was to stimulate local economic development? Thanks to an underground tunnel, Convention Center visitors now don't even have to go outside. Good luck getting them to frequent area businesses. Hardly a "world-wide attraction," the Convention Center is at best a local detraction, its sprawling and desolate airplane-hanger sized halls suffocating the neighborhood and preventing its revitalization.

Anonymous said...

the historic boards are hugely to blame for lack of innovation and closed-minded ideas of design. stifling creativity has always been a hallmark of the historic preservation board, even when they realize that the current townhouses we have now were once considered a poor man's mansion and not historically appropriate.

Anonymous said...

DC commercial buildings are generally boring because of the height limit. Developera have to maximize their FAR so every building is a box. There are almost no setbacks, very few walls which do not meet at 90 degree angles and almost no interesting shaped buildings. Think how much cheaper this convention center hotel would have been to build if our tax dollars weren't subsidizing a humongous multi-level hole in the ground. Wouldn't you also enjoy your conference room more if it had some windows?

Anonymous said...

By my count, there are already 3 Marquis's, NY, San Fran, Atlanta, with a Miami one opening this year. So maybe it will become the 5th... not important, but nonetheless, a correction... I really enjoy the site.

 

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