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Old 08-22-2008, 12:02 AM   #1
12345
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Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower
By Scott Van Voorhis
Friday, August 22, 2008 - Updated 3h ago

The headquarters hotel for Boston?s big convention center is weighing plans for a major expansion that could see it add a second tower, according to executives familar with the discussions.

The nearly 800-room hotel, which opened two years ago, has done a brisk business, mainly serving the thousands of conventioneers who visit the adjacent Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

Now the hotel?s operator, the Westin, and its Maryland-based owner are conducting informal market research as they put together plans for a second tower at the Westin Boston Waterfront. The owner, Diamond Rock Hospitality, has taken lead in the planning, executives said.

A spokesman for Diamond Rock could not be reached for comment.

The company is considering a second 16-story hotel with 327 rooms to match the current 16-story hotel.

David Connor, the Westin Boston Waterfront?s general manager, is going so far as to say the discussions are leaning toward an expansion. But the big question is when.

He says that a 2009 groundbreaking is unlikely, while 2010 looks more promising. ?I don?t know if it?s if, it?s more when to go,? Connor said.

The hotel?s bullish planning comes after a solid start for a new hotel and budding interest on the part of the convention center in a major expansion of its own.

Occupancy is now at 70 percent and the hotel has garnered a series of prestigious service awards - unusual for a new hotel, where the emphasis is often on strict cost control during the early years - said Patrick Moscaritolo, president of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.

?The hotel has been exceeding expectations and outperforming its competitive set,? he said.

The second tower would likely go over the Westin?s grand ballroom, whose 1,000-seat capacity has given the hotel an edge in recruiting meetings. The ballroom would likely be expanded to accomodate the new high-rise above, the Westin?s Connor said.

http://bostonherald.com/business/gen...&position=also
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Old 08-22-2008, 12:37 AM   #2
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

Here's another related article:

Quote:
South Boston Convention Center may face hotel crunch

By Scott Van Voorhis
Friday, August 22, 2008 - Updated 3h ago


Boston?s convention center, as it weighs a major expansion, is faced with a potential hotel crunch.

Center officials are questioning whether there will be enough hotel rooms within walking distance of the sleek, Rafael Vinoly-designed center to support thousands of additional conventioneers, said James Rooney, chief executive of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.

As it stands now, there are not enough hotel rooms near the convention hall to support the droves of convention-goers.

?We are at a competitive disadvantage with cities that have a much larger block of hotel rooms within walking distance,? Rooney said.

Boston?s centerpiece convention center, which opened in 2004, has about 1,700 hotel rooms within a short walk. That includes a nearly 800-room Westin Boston Waterfront, which is eyeing plans for a second tower.

But Rooney argues the convention hall really needs 4,000 hotel rooms nearby. And, if the convention authority decides to go ahead with a major expansion, that number will only rise.

With hotel rooms in short supply around the center, many conventions that come to town are booking blocks of rooms in Back Bay hotels.

Some conventioneers are forced to bed farther afield in Braintree, Quincy and other suburbs. A few are even booking rooms as far out as Framingham, he said.

Still, not just more rooms are needed, Rooney noted. Boston is also suffering from a shortage of moderately priced hotels to meet the needs of budget-conscious conventioneers. While a number of new hotels have been built over the past few years, most have been upscale luxury flags.

?Another challenge we have is the price point of the hotel inventory,? Rooney said.
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Old 08-22-2008, 01:37 AM   #3
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

I think the Adding the second tower will be okay but just for 300 rooms? And if the convention expands then are we going to need another expansion at a later day.
I think other 800 rooms would be perfect.
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Old 08-22-2008, 09:08 AM   #4
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

Short term (5-10 years) it seems to me like the convention folks would be better off staying in the Back Bay or even downtown where there are more places to eat, shop, drink etc. I know this may change in the coming years but if I was coming in from out of town, I would much rather have to take a 15 minute bus ride in the morning and evening to and from the convention and stay in a part of town where there are things going on than stay in no man's land. Of course, the ideal situation is to have enough rooms and enough to do in terms of eating, shopping, entertainment etc. within walking distance from the convention center but we are at least a decade away from that becoming a realty.
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Old 08-22-2008, 09:55 AM   #5
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

That's true. The Waterfront is going to be pretty bleak for some time to come. We can only hope the future brings us more a lively landscape, as most buildings there now greet visitors like this:

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Old 08-22-2008, 10:36 AM   #6
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

I hope that's just a vacant retail or restaurant space, eventually to be leased out.
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Old 08-22-2008, 11:40 AM   #7
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

I hope so too, but many of the buildings that have established ground floors present that kind of facade, or just rule out any kind of pedestrian engagement. You have the one, designated lobby entrance, rarely anything more.









If I were staying in the SBW to attend a conference, I'd leave as soon as possible. Building more of this sort of thing is not going to make people want to stick around and spend money. They'll hit up the Back Bay or another part of the city where they feel welcomed, and encouraged to walk around and see what's around the next corner.

The SBW is very much about buildings that have no relationship to each other. Isolated islands of concrete and glass where people go to do whatever they came to do, and leave when they're done. Sure there are nice mini-parks around, but it's not an area built with a vibrant social scene in mind. You can go outside and sit on a bench on your lunch hour, but there's nothing to make someone want to walk around and visit the other buildings nearby. If you go from one building to the next it's concrete, glass, concrete, glass, locked door, concrete, glass, concrete, glass, locked door. Blank wall after blank wall. "Is that a Starbucks in there? No idea. Can't really see inside, can't find a way in at all. Maybe we can go to the lobby and...nah...let's just head over there and wait for the bus that'll take us downtown."

Last edited by Arborway; 08-22-2008 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 08-22-2008, 01:57 PM   #8
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

Ah, but times will change. The operators of the very popular Boston Beer Garden want to open a big, fun establishment on the water. This is the first instance of some real, human-scale life bubbling up in this abyss.

And that wacky ole' Viven Li actually came out against it!! Haha, she's too much. I'm glad people in this town, including the BRA, are laughing her off so casually lately.

Just like most anti-progressives, you can't be against everything always and expect anyone to take you seriously.
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Old 08-22-2008, 03:57 PM   #9
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

Unfortunately, I have found that it is a vicious cycle, and the Waterfront area is right in the middle of it:

1. Retailers don't want to be in a place where there aren't many people living/staying;

2. People don't want to live in a an area with no retail/restaurants/street life.

I am optimistic that the long overdue Fan Pier and Seaport Square projects will get built in their entirety and that area will finally begin to see some life and energy infused into it. Be patient...as pelhamhall said times will change.
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Old 08-22-2008, 04:58 PM   #10
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

^That can be true sometimes, but I wouldn't say it applies to the SBW (at least not from a residential standpoint). It's a good places for residences to be because it's on the water and close to mass transit. It's also more affordable than say, the North End, Back Bay, South End, etc.

The proximity to mass transit, waterfront, and city center combined with the fact that it's less expensive than other neighborhoods so close to downtown should make it attractive for people regardless of the fact that there is little retail, restaurants, or street life as of now. Fan Pier and Seaport Square will certainly help increase desirability, but I think the waterfront and mass transit are enough to get things moving and at lease keep this area from falling into the category you mention.

As far as people staying in the hotels, unless they're on vacation, they probably don't care about that stuff (the exception being restaurants.). If they are on vacation, it's still a depressing spot to be in.
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Old 08-22-2008, 07:57 PM   #11
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

They should definitely build more hotels in the SBW to support the State financed convention center. There is not a critical mass there yet but I hope it's coming. Then we'll have the SBW neighborhood association and there won't be any new hotel or housing so I say build it now.
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Old 08-22-2008, 11:48 PM   #12
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

Yes, they should, but they should also build the addition to this one much larger....the original proposal for this site was for a building 28 to 30 stories tall. At least!
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Old 08-25-2008, 03:54 AM   #13
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

^^^FAA won't allow tall. End of fantasizing.

IMO, the proposed Westin expansion is anticipating a go-ahead on the proposed expansion of the convention center. A 70% occupancy rate would not be grounds, by itself, for a major expansion.
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Old 08-25-2008, 06:42 AM   #14
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Re: Waterfront Westin eyes 2nd tower

FAA won't allow tall, but taller is still possible. They should be like the office "towers" in the area, and squeeze every last inch.

If the nearby Manulife building is allowed to be 235', then they could have built at least 23 storeys of hotel. Also, since this location is further inland, they could build slightly higher, and maybe fit in a couple more. (Not sure of the exact height allowed at this location, but I have a permittable heights map somewhere.)

70% is not great, but it is good for the amount of time it has been open. It should however, be at or near 100% as it's pretty much the only game in town (almost). That number should go up, as the BCEC continues to bring in more shows.
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