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Downtown Los Angeles is getting yet another high-rise hotel

Mar 07, 2013 12:59 pm

Skift Take

It’s great to see the focus on Los Angeles’ downtown, but it’s hard to see the uptick in hotel nights in the city to justify all this building. Downtown’s growth will likely come at the expense of airport hotels and any other non-waterfront properties.

— Jason Clampet

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As demand for downtown Los Angeles hotel rooms grows, plans have emerged for yet another high-rise inn near Staples Center.

The announcement comes as hoteliers are scrambling to cash in on downtown’s revival as a tourist destination and convention hub. Three large hotel projects are already underway and developers are prospecting for other potential sites in the neighborhood.

Next on the horizon is the Renaissance Hotel, which will be more than 20 stories tall with 450 rooms and is slated to open in 2016 across the street from the L.A. Live entertainment complex.

It will cost $200 million and rise on Olympic Boulevard next to a 24-story tower already under construction that will house a Courtyard by Marriott and a Residence Inn by Marriott under one roof when it opens in summer 2014.

The developer of the side-by-side hotel projects is Williams/Dame and Associates, a Portland, Ore., firm that helped build three luxury condominium buildings east of Staples Center in the mid-2000s. Williams/Dame will start work on the Renaissance in early 2014, Chairman Homer Williams said.

“There is very significant existing hotel demand that is not being met,” he said. “We haven’t made a dent in it yet.”

Williams hopes his company’s new hotels will attract business and leisure travelers as well as conventioneers and benefit from its proximity to L.A. Live.

“It’s a high-energy place,” he said. “Why would you not want to stay there?”

Downtown needs an additional 2,000 to 3,000 hotel rooms to remain competitive with cities in attracting conventions to Los Angeles, according to hospitality consultant Bruce Baltin of PKF Consulting. More hotels can spur more business as the downtown becomes a better-known destination, Baltin said.

“Since the opening of the JW Marriott … and the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles hotels in early 2010, other downtown hotels have realized significant increases in average daily rates and occupancy levels,” he said.

Last year the average room rate was more than $170 a night, he said, and average occupancy was 74%.

Other downtown hotels are being planned, said consultant Alan Reay of Atlas Hospitality. That marks a turnaround from the recession, when hotels suffered and construction stopped.

“Interest in new hotel development in Southern California has come roaring back a lot quicker than many of us expected,” Reay said, due to the improving economy and increasing profitability of existing hotels.

“Out of every 10 calls we get from people looking for hotel sites, the No. 1 choice for seven or eight of them is downtown,” he said. “In my 20-odd years in this business I have never seen this much interest in downtown L.A.”

Williams/Dame bought the two hotel sites that were formerly used as parking lots from AEG, the developer of the $2.5-billion L.A. Live center that includes a Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotel complex. Both of those hotels and the three coming across the street are flagged with brands operated by Marriott International Inc.

It is not unusual to have so many Marriott products so close together, company executives have said.

“We have a portfolio of brands that cater to different demands and price points,” Tony Capuano, Marriott’s executive vice president of development told The Times when the last Marriott project was announced. “This gives us the opportunity to serve a variety of guests who come for a variety of reasons.”

Other developers are also making pricey bets that downtown will continue to attract overnight visitors.

Korean Air is razing the old Wilshire Grand Hotel at Wilshire Boulevard and Figueroa Street to make way for a $1-billion skyscraper that will include 900 guest rooms along with offices, restaurants and shops. The 73-story structure will be the tallest building west of Chicago when it opens in 2017.

Also being built downtown in a former office building is a 180-room Ace Hotel. The Portland hotel chain that caters to the young and hip is renovating the United Artists building on Broadway at 9th Street, which was built in 1927 in part to provide a theater for the movie production company founded by film luminaries Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith.

The Ace Hotel, which will include a 1,600-seat theater, is set to open late this year.

(c)2013 the Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services. 

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