Sports and entertainment giant AEG will make a $500-million expansion to its Marriott complex at L.A. Live as the demand for hotel rooms rises in downtown Los Angeles.
AEG will add 755 rooms to the popular J.W. Marriott in a new high-rise connected to the existing hotel building by a bridge over Olympic Boulevard, creating the second-largest hotel in California with 1,756 rooms.
The new rooms are expected to help fill a hotel shortage created by downtown’s recent emergence as a place tourists want to visit and its status 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 said. “A lot of the demand coming downtown is discretionary.”
Among the expected visitors are many Californians who have added downtown L.A. as an option for brief “getaway” vacations, he said.
Such regional visitors who may come to L.A. Live for a concert or Staples Center for a basketball game are among the overnight guests AEG hopes to attract. It will also make a bid for more convention and meeting business with additional improvements.
On the roof of the West Parking Garage now serving L.A. Live, AEG will build additional conference, banquet and ballroom space that will be connected to the existing J.W. Marriott function rooms by two bridges.
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.”
The new 38-story tower and meeting space addition were designed by Gensler, the same architecture firm that designed L.A. Live including the original hotel complex. The J.W. Marriott addition is to stand at the northeast corner of Olympic Boulevard and Georgia Street.
It will have two levels of underground parking and street-level shops and restaurants operated separately from the hotel. The second floor will have a restaurant and lounge, a fitness center and a swimming pool with cabanas. A tunnel for staff use will pass under Olympic Boulevard.
The addition’s 755 rooms would supplement the existing 878-room J.W. Marriott and connected 123-room Ritz-Carlton, creating a 1,756-room property. It would be second in size in California only to the Hilton San Francisco Union Square with 1,908 rooms.