Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Convention Center Marriott: Going Forward, Looking Back

Today it all becomes double super official, as suits and helmets mix it up at the site of the future convention center Marriott Marquis hotel this morning for an official groundbreaking. Construction began last month to build the 1175 rooms that will be owned by The Washington Convention and Sports Authority (WCSA), operated by Marriott, designed by TBS Architects and Cooper Carry Architecture, developed by Quadrangle Development and Capstone Development, on land owned by the District of Columbia. Got that? Okay, for those attending today's event that want to keep the players straight, here's a recap of the last decade of the ups and downs that got us here:

In 2001, the city issues an RFP for construction of a convention center hotel, with the Convention Center then just starting construction; the city calls for a privately funded hotel. DC chose neither of the proposals submitted by Marriott or Hilton, but subsequently announces it has chosen Marriott as a partner. Spring of 2003, the Convention Center opens amid high expectations and early success, but over time conventioneers have difficulty securing large blocks of rooms and opt for other locations; hopes of a post-construction neighborhood renaissance are unrealized. The Washington Convention Center Authority Act of 1994 is amended to further fund the Authority to build a hotel to service the convention center and add yet more convention space. Initial plans call for 1400-1500 rooms in a building that would span both sides of L Street and become the largest hotel in the city.

By early 2007, after numerous iterations of design and location, the District swaps its old convention center site for Kingdon Gould's site at 9th & Mass., Gould retains the northeast corner of what may one day become the CityCenter project. In September of 2007, Mayor Adrian Fenty announces that DC has signed a new agreement with Marriott for the hotel, now dialed back to around 1100 rooms on only one block; Marriott, which does not own the hotels it operates, agrees to lease the property for 99 years. The hotel will feature additional meeting space, an underground tunnel connecting to the Convention Center, and a glass canopied courtyard. The building will feature over 100,000 s.f. of meeting and ballroom space, 25,000 s.f. of retail, and 385 parking spaces. Marriott agrees to earn a LEED Silver rating and hangs on to the land north of L Street, now a decaying row of storefronts.

In June of 2008, HPRB considers plans for an 1100 room hotel, ultimately approving it as long as the American Federation of Labor building (pictured) is spared. With a deal inked involving Quadrangle and Capstone, construction seems near at hand, but the unfolding financial crisis drains developers of financing, halting progress.

In April 2008, the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center opens just south of the District inside a $2 billion project with 5 new hotels, a serious competitor for DC's convention trade. In 2009, an agitated Mayor Fenty pursues a public financing option that would have committed the Authority to picking up the $530,000,000 tab in full and proposed legislation that would have removed Quadrangle in place of a city funded program. The Council balked at the cost, and in July of 2009 the Council passes legislation, the New Convention Center Hotel Amendments Act of 2009, granting the WCSA authority to spend more than $200m to go toward construction, up from the previous $135m, with the rest to come from developers.

In August of 2009, Fenty signs the bill with much fanfare, construction of an 1175-key hotel appears imminent, but just two months later, a JBG-controlled company sues the city to delay consummation of the deal, alleging impropriety in DC's awarding process, in what some suspect was related to JBG's disagreement with Marriott over development of their Woodley Park project. JBG contends the city gave the development team a sweetheart deal financed by the city that it never offered the competition. In January of 2010, the Authority countersues JBG, alleging JBG intended to "extort" the city. JBG's suit was dismissed by a Superior Court judge in March.

In July, Marriott, the city and JBG said they had reached a deal to end the stalemate, planning then goes into high gear. By September of 2010, the city authorized WCSA to release $250m in bonds, and in early October preliminary groundwork gets underway. On October 20th the Authority announces it has sold its entire $250m bond release, clearing the last foreseeable hurdle. Today at 11, with speeches that seem longer than the planning, the parties will officially break ground on the hotel.

The four-star hotel is expected to be complete by the spring of 2014.

Washington DC real estate development news


Allison said...

so what is the plan with the vacant property north of l? hopefully something...its depressing to look at.

Anonymous said...

Please note one factual point. The Marquis will not be "owned by The Washington Convention and Sports Authority (WCSA)." It will be privately owned by a joint venture including affiliates of Quadrangle Development Corporation (which is also the managing member) and Capstone Development, LLC.

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI it is TVS-Design out of Atlanta

Anonymous said...

I am also interested in the property north of L St, all the plans and renderings show a large building mass to be constructed there. Anyone know the plan for that area? Is it a future phase? Part of the hotel?

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