Officials Break Ground For Washington Convention Center Hotel | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Officials Break Ground For Washington Convention Center Hotel

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Whenever groups have booked an event at the convention center since its opening in 2003, they have also had to reserve hotels across the city, which officials say is an inconvenience for out-of-town guests. The new hotel will allow thousands of those guests to stay right downtown.

Greg O'Dell, CEO of the convention center, says the $537 million hotel is symbolic of the D.C. metro region's growing economy.

"It really shows...the financial strength of D.C. at a time when other jurisdictions haven't been able to, unfortunately, move the ball in terms of economic development," O'Dell says. "We're not only getting this large-scale project under way, but also it's an attraction that shows D.C. is probably the strongest market in terms of foreign financial investment as well."

Across from the convention center at Modern Liquors, the owner's son, Shravan Dilawri, says local businesses are eager for the new hotel, because currently visitors just come to a convention and then leave.

"If there's a convention we get effectively five or 10 [people], nothing more...because they come on the buses and the buses drop them [at] their room," Dilawri says.

Located to the southwest of the convention center, officials hope the new hotel will spark an additional $100 million in spending from visitors.

But Dilawri admits local business aren't too excited about the 42 months it's expected to take to construct the new hotel.

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