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Fenty, Gray Break Ground for Washington Marriott Marquis Hotel at Convention Center | Business

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Fenty, Gray Break Ground for Washington Marriott Marquis Hotel at Convention Center

After years of debating, voting, and planning, D.C. officials gathered at the corner of 9th Street and Massachusetts Avenue on Tuesday, November 10th, to break ground on the Washington Marriott Marquis hotel.

"I know I don't have to ask, but I will anyway," D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty questioned the significantly large crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony.  "Is there anyone here who is excited that this day has finally come?" 

The response was a cacophony of joyful screams and cheers, as everyone in attendance was able to see the Capital City's dream project finally become a reality. 

Since the Walter E. Washington Convention Center opened its doors in 2003, the city has yearned for a hotel space grand enough pair with it.  As time has passed without this space, the D.C. government has seen opportunities to develop its tourism industry, as well as improve the city's employment rate, go by the wayside.

"We know that we've lost about 250 million dollars in revenue over the years not being able to have (the hotel) available to us," D.C. Mayor Elect Vincent Gray said at the ceremony.  "And we've lost employment opportunities."

The hotel is pegged to be quite the structure.  1,175 rooms, 46 suites, and over 100,000 square feet of meeting and assembly space are just a few contributing factors to the project's $520 million price tag.

Expected to be completed in 2014, the hotel will be located directly across from the Convention Center with the hopes that it will help develop the greater Shaw community, as well as the District as a whole.

"(The hotel) will be the key to the revitalization of this area,” Fenty said.  “Not only (will it be) the key to growing what is one our emerging industries, tourism, but it shows the District of Columbia knows how to get things done."

The hotel is clearly a victory for D.C. as a whole, a victory that certainly didn’t come easy.  Each speaker at the ceremony poked fun at the incredibly long, bumpy road that the project encountered along the way.

"The Mayor Elect and I were just joking that we weren't sure whether or not Walter Washington (D.C.’s first home-rule Mayor) had yet been elected Mayor when this project first started,” Fenty said.

Ward II City Councilman Jack Evans said the Convention Center/Convention Center hotel “Odyssey” began in his first meeting after being elected in May of 1991. 

"I can't tell you how pleased I am after 19 years to be here," Evans exclaimed.

And although some felt as though the ground breaking day would never come, the prevailing sentiment was that the hours of effort and energy were well worth it.

“This is a great day,” Gray said.  “We had a wonderful Convention Center down on 9th street…and then we built this magnificent structure (the Walter E. Washington Convention Center), and now we’re taking the next step.  And that’s a step that’s going to allow us to be able to attract the level of business, the level of shows, the level of Conventions that will put us absolutely in the top tier nationally in being able to attract people to come, where they should be, and that is nation’s capital.”


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