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Monday, September 24, 2007

New Convention Center Hotel Watch

As construction will not likely start for 2 years, a construction watch for the new convention center hotel is a little pre-mature. But in the spirit of excitement preceding the Mayor's formal announcement today at 11:30 at 9th and L, I figured I'd post the first of what I hope will be a photo-documentary of the new convention center hotel. The following are a few "before" pictures of the hotel site; on posting, I realize I need several additional shots to capture the area fully in its present state.

The first picture, taken from 9th and Mass looking up Mass towards Dupont. While the hotel's design is only now underway, I believe it's anticipated that the main entrance (bag check, valet, and that sort of stuff) will be on Mass. My understanding is that the tall office building on the corner will stay and is not part of the hotel development.


This shot is from 9th and L looking towards Mass. You can see the back of the aforementioned tall office building at the far left.



Third, from 9th and L looking toward M. The hotel will span over L Street and run midway up the block. You can see the Whitman condominiums in the background.

A lot of vacant buildings and empty lots define the landscape currently (in part due to land acquisition for the hotel), so the hotel will bring some much-needed life to lower 9th. Central Lock and Key, the blue-sided building in the picture above, is one longtime survivor that will be displaced by the new hotel.

21 comments:

Dave M said...

Did I miss something here? Last news I heard was that there was a serious impasse with the current landowner over this project going through. So much that our engaged Council member Jack Evans recommended to throw in the towel and build the hotel on the old convention center site. Really, did I miss something?

Dave M said...

Nevermind... I just answered my own question by reading further down the blog. Good news here. It's about time 4 years after the fact

rr 446 said...

someone blogged somewhere that the office building on the corner(9th & Mass NW) was supposed to be converted into "market rate" condo's.

Shaw Rez said...

rr 446 - interesting; I haven't heard that. I'm blanking on what that building houses (maybe like the national plumbers' union building or something?). I posit that a market rate condo project will be delayed or shelved altogether until the market improves, especially with so many of such projects online or about to come online in the area.

Rob Goodspeed had an interesting piece recently about Mt. Vernon Square and how it could be a more vital public space. I think he discussed this building.

lamore said...

Hi. I'm a Whitman resident, and walked down to Mayor Fenty's press conference this morning. I was told by some of his staff that the corner historic office building that you're referencing will be incorporated into the hotel project. The facade will remain intact, but the rest will be gutted...

The hotel will indeed continue over L St. and take up some of the buildings on 9th encompassing and adjacent to Central Lock and Key. The hotel will have an overpass over L St. similar to the Convention Center, so that traffic is not disrupted.

All in all, I feel that the project will be great for the neighborhood, and hopefully will lead to some additional revitalization up 9th St. The mayor said he intends to break ground "as soon as humanly possible", and that the hotel will be scheduled to open in 2011.

Shaw Rez said...

Lamore - THANKS for the report!!!

That's interesting re: the use of the historic office building; I think it makes sense to include that building if possible from a visibility standpoint if nothing else.

Here's to hoping the hotel is architecturally interesting, pedestrian-friendly, convention center vitalizing, retail-friendly, with a cool bar and a cool restaurant that are appealing to visitors and D.C. residents alike.

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying the mature discussion of the new hotel project on your blog.

It's too bad another blogger has stooped to indulging in anti-Mormon bigotry to attack Marriott. Sad, but not surprising.

Anonymous said...

The corner office building (9th & Mass) is expected to be a boutique hotel integrated into the whole convention center hotel development. This would be something akin to THEhotel at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Anonymous said...

Hotel or no hotel, the Convention Center is still too small. These convention centers make their money on the massive trade shows, and DC simply doesn't have the space that places like Vegas, and Orlando do.

Brookings released a study in 2005 that concluded that overall convention business in the US is on the decline, and that there is a glut of convention centers in the US with more on the way.

In other words, banking on the DC Convention Center to be anything other than a white elephant is a bad idea.

Shaw Rez said...

A couple of thoughts...

First, while the convention center may ultimately be a money-loser for the city, that doesn't translate into it being a negative force for our neighborhood. Furthermore, the convention center's financial outlook is even more bleak without an adjacent convention center hotel.

Second, I know a lot of studies have been done about the economics of convention centers, but it seems that some things shouldn't apply to the nation's Capital. D.C. should boast a world-class convention center, even if it's a money-loser. We have the facility, now we're finally getting the vital component that's already years overdue, the hotel.

timfry said...

shaw rez, well stated in rebuttal to the convention center business on decline. DC is different - thousands of associations hold meetings here annually to lobby the Hill. Most still use hotels and not the convention center but that could change if hotels are built near the convention center.

And if not, the town still needs more hotels. My association is constantly looking for meeting space in this city and usually has difficulty if we are looking within a month of the date. Here's hoping a few more hotels will help.

Greg said...

Me too times three.

I won't revisit the lengthy convention comments I posted a little while ago. But I will say that you can't compare DC to Orlando or Vegas. Those cities are designed to be convention cities and can host shows that are 30,000+ attendees. DC absolutely cannot handle that kind of volume. We're comparing apples and hand grenades.

But as Tim pointed out, DC has hundreds of associations that run meetings that are much smaller than that, and the center could have more use than something like Orlando's meetings machine.

I also think that the convention studies focused on particular groups. Although the niche groups that used to run the giant consumer-driven monster meetings are starting to ramp down, association meetings (medical groups especially) are growing at a fairly good clip. It's anecdotal data, but a number of the medical groups I'm in contact with report attendance up this year, and an increase in exhibit dollars.

And ShawRez touched on this, but it bears repeating: DC is different. You can't compare Orlando or San Diego to our nation's capital. It's embarrassing that a capital city, where so much is happening, can't comfortably host a large conference.

ladyb said...

I'm new-ish to your blog, but really appreciate the updates on my neighborhood. I would love for 9th street to take off. There are some lovely buildings that need a bit of help and restoration. I would hope that the hotel would help provide that needed incentive for people to invest in the neighborhood.

Any word on what's happening in the first floor of 1010 Mass?

Anonymous said...

What a shame that the city is displacing Central Lock and Key. Will the owners find somewhere else to go? Doesn't the city have a responsibility to take on some of the costs of their reestablishment?

KEG said...

DCMUD reports that "Sean Madigan of DC's Office of Planning says the site plan will no longer include the parcels north of L Street, which Marriott previously acquired in expectation of building into the final designs..."

This is important; those buildings north of L are the small, rowhouse backdrop that makes Shaw attractive and interesting. If the city/Marriott would release their hold on them, they could populate with small restaurants, bars, and shops. Nima and Corduroy are already slated to go into very similar buildings just north of those buildings indicating the potential for a cohesive strip of small businesses. We'd lose out if they were converted into a mega-rise office/condo structure.

Shaw Rez said...

wow, Keg--interesting find indeed! I think these buildings have major potential to be a really neat commercial strip (ideally with residences above), but they constitute visitor-offensive blight in their present state.

Shaw Rez said...

ladyb - I'm not sure what's going in the retail spaces of 1010 Mass. Hopefully something great! I heard a rumor a long time ago that Trader Joe's was considering the space, but I think that was wholly unsubstantiated.

KEG said...

Shaw Rez, undoubtedly they're blight, but it's because they've been held hostage for years for a failed plan (the hotel). Shaw bloggers like to talk about Shiloh as a slum lord, but the city and Marriott are the worst actors of the bunch by maintaining these critical buildings all boarded-up in a bombed-out ramshackled strip. These buildings are the closest to downtown foot traffic and should be welcoming - but upon seeing these urine-soaked, garbage-strewn shells, a new visitor's gut feeling is to turn around.

Shaw Rez said...

KEG - good points. I think it's *somewhat* understandable that these buildings have been held onto and kept vacant for the past few years in anticipation of building a hotel on the site. Now that the decision not to build north of L has been made, it's time to watch critically what they do and how expeditiously they act. I'm ready to get vocal.

Also, I agree that the city's a major offender when it comes to holding onto vacant property. It, too, should get attention for the same. The city also needs to improve how it addresses the situation of privately held vacant properties, like those of Shiloh. Newly boarded windows and new roofs equate to "lipstick on the pig" and do not ultimately achieve what needs to be achieved: new life in vacant properties.

Developersagent.com said...

First of all, its a shame that Lock & Key is heading out...they have been my one source in DC for keys, especially unique ones.

With regards to the hotel project...the timing is right on the money for their two year ground breaking. Between the 8-9 month rezoning to the city approval on architecture and scheduling of construction I cant see it taking any shorter of a period. This new hotel should make up for the spoken 8 year lag of hotel development in the city.

One of my clients is working on affordable workforce housing downtown, although I can't say where yet...but the prices will hopefully be just about half of the going market rate. Its going to be a great project and should create quite a buzz.

Edgar Gaines said...

The little store on the corner of 5th and N NW does cut simple keys on site while you wait.