AEG plans downtown Los Angeles hotel expansion for J.W. Marriott, Ritz-Carlton

Big news from the City of Angels today, where L.A. Live/Staples owner AEG is planning a $500-million expansion of the J.W. Marriott/Ritz-Carlton hotel downtown that will add 755 rooms.

According to the Los Angeles Business Journal, the company plans to build a new 38-story tower, occupying 60,000 square feet, at the northeast corner of Olympic Blvd. and Georgia St., and connect it to the existing 878-room J.W. Marriott L.A. Live and 123-room Ritz-Carlton by way of a bridge across Olympic. 

Combined, the new project (together with the existing JW Marriott L.A. LIVE and The Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles) will have 1,756 rooms and over 200,000 square feet of function space, reportedly making it the second-largest hotel in California, as AEG claimed in a statement. The gross building area of the hotel (including parking) is almost 650,000 square feet.

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As the Los Angeles Times notes, the new rooms are expected to help fill a hotel shortage created by downtown's recent emergence as a tourist destination and as a convention hub.

"We have reached critical mass where we are really beginning to become an urban destination like New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston," hospitality industry consultant Bruce Baltin of PKF Consulting told the paper. "A lot of the demand coming downtown is discretionary."

Los Angeles business leaders have said "for years" that more hotels are needed if downtown is to compete with other cities for conventions. San Diego has about 20,000 rooms serving its convention center, and San Francisco has nearly as many. Downtown L.A. has about 7,000 rooms.

"Additional hotel inventory, especially around the Convention Center, is critically important to our ability to attract larger conventions," said Ernest Wooden Jr., chief executive of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. "This 755-room expansion is a positive step forward to help ensure our inventory remains competitive."

AEG intends to proceed with this project as soon as it completes the necessary arrangements with the City and Marriott. Construction is currently slated to begin in late 2015 or early 2016, with the new hotel rooms and facilities scheduled to open in 2018.  

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