Washington DC Convention Center Takes Another Step Toward Expansion and HQ Hotel

RENEE DIIULIO, SENIOR EDITOR
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Washington, DC — Though still in the preliminary stages of a proposed expansion and hotel addition, the Washington Convention Center (WCC) has completed another step in the process. The Washington Convention Center Authority (WCCA) Board of Directors has selected a site at 9th Street, one of two locations, as the preferred spot for a new headquarters hotel and meeting/ballroom space expansion.  The other spot under consideration was the site of the former Washington Convention Center, which was imploded in December 2004.

The next step is to determine how to pay for it. “We have the justification and the estimated cost. Next, we will figure out funding,” says Tom Mobley, WCC’s General Manager and CEO, who notes that all options are being considered.

The proposal includes a WCC-adjacent headquarters hotel, featuring a minimum of 1,220 guest rooms and 100,000 sf of meeting and ballroom space, as well as an additional 75,000 sf of meeting and ballroom space connected to the center.

The $850 MIL WCC, which opened in March 2003, offers 725,000 sf of prime exhibit space, 150,000 sf of meeting space divisible into 66 rooms and a 52,000 sf ballroom. It is designed to host multiple overlapping events.

Justification for the new project comes in the form of a study led by Conventions, Sports & Leisure, International, which suggests that based on occupancy and current hotel and space limitations the new convention center is already reaching a mature level, an opinion echoed by Mobley.

“Discussions about the industry being overbuilt — as a whole — are misleading. Averages and generalities do not describe the circumstances of a local market. Certain areas have less concern. Washington, DC, is a high-demand market with high occupancy,” says Mobley.

“Everyone agrees that we need a headquarters hotel. The question is how to execute the project,” says Mobley. The demand for meeting space is also well proven. “Meeting space has grown in importance,” he adds.

However, Mobley also allows that the approach to the project is cautious. The information currently being compiled will be used in a report for the Washington, DC City Council and Mayor to help render a decision. No timeframe has yet been discussed.

Reach Tom Mobley, General Manager and CEO, WCC, (202) 249-3350 or tmobley@dcconvention.com.