What Will the Convention Center Hotel Mean for Shaw?
The massive Marriott Marquis hotel planned for 10th and Massachusetts Avenue N.W. has been working through legal issues for so long now that nearby residents have almost forgotten it's on the way. But now, with a financial closing expected for October 27th and construction ready to start 10 days after, the prospect is starting to become very real.
At Shaw Main Streets' development forum last night, Capstone Development's Norm Jenkins took questions from residents about the 1,165-room behemoth about to land in their community. Concerns fall roughly into two categories: Construction, and how the finished project will affect the surrounding neighborhoods.
Construction impact will be large, to put it mildly. Build-out is expected to take 42 months, 10 of which will be dedicated to digging a 110-foot-deep hole and building back up to the surface (because of height restrictions that kept the building to 15 stories, there's almost as much space below grade as above it).
Nearby residents still remember the long, loud process of building the three-block-long Convention Center. One neighbor, who works a night shift at the Washington Post, said he would get off work at 5:00 a.m. and have to sleep at the YMCA because construction was so loud at his house. At a previous meeting, another community member recalled the rats that had been displaced into surrounding blocks (and last night, one woman wanted to know if there were plans to relocate the feral cat community living on the site of the other, smaller hotels to be developed on the north side of L Street). Finally, there's the inevitable question of parking: Jenkins says that while plans are still being figured out, the scores of workers who will be on the site every day will not take up spaces in the neighborhood.
The other set of concerns centers around how the completed hotel will fit into the neighborhood, and what it will do for the local economy. The hotel will be largely self-contained, with six food and beverage outlets (a coffee shop, three different bars, and two restaurants) and a few retail shops. Jenkins projected that he'll be able to choose retail outlets that will enliven lackluster stores across the street at the Convention Center, but conventioneers won't ever have to go outside to patronize them: A tunnel under 9th Street will seamlessly connect the two buildings.
"The reason Washington wants this hotel is so they can be competitive," Jenkins said, in response to a skeptical query. "Having that tunnel in place is a key differentiator when people decide to bring their conventions to Washington."