News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., The Boston Globe
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 24, 2004 - Developers of the new Boston Convention & Exhibition Center hotel said yesterday they have secured a $120 million construction loan, which means the 790-room Westin could be open in the summer of 2006, just in time for a Microsoft Corp. convention that tourism officials hope to land in June of that year.
That convention, drawing as many as 20,000 people over 10 days, would be one of the largest events that the business-starved facility has booked yet, according to James E. Rooney, executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.
Rooney yesterday joined Richard L. Martini, development director of Boston Convention Center Hotel LLC, the local development team, to announce that a nine-bank group led by Toronto-based Scotia Capital would provide financing for the hotel.
The local developers and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. had until March 1 to secure financing. Martini said legal details would be worked out over the next two months or so. Rooney said the developers would pay the authority $110,000 a month for the extension of the deadline but hoped to break ground in late April or early May.
The 17-story hotel has been almost fully designed, by Arrowstreet Inc. of Somerville, and now includes a more pedestrian-friendly Fargo Street entrance set back from D Street. Fargo extends under the hotel and the convention center entrance.
A low-rise wing at D and Summer streets will house about 100,000 square feet of retail space, Martini said, perhaps including restaurants and a bookstore.
Starwood announced last year it would put about $35 million into the $200 million project, which is considered vital to the success of the new convention center, opening this June. The hotel was chosen to receive a city-administered US Housing and Urban Development loan of $15 million in November.
The local development team is made up of Stephen Karp, Steven Fischman, Joseph Fallon, and Joseph O'Donnell, known collectively as Boston Convention Center Hotel LLC, and Carpenter & Co.
The $120 million loan announced yesterday will cover construction costs and could be converted into a long-term loan. The banks joining Scotia Capital were not disclosed, but the developers said that no Boston banks were involved.
"What's happening in that whole area is one piece of good news after another," Patrick B. Moscaritolo, president of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, said yesterday. He was referring to a recent Massachusetts Port Authority designation of a retail developer for its land nearby, as well as construction that recently began on a D Street apartment complex being built by the Fallon Co.
Tourism officials said they could not confirm that Microsoft had chosen Boston as a destination for 2006. But two of them, asking not to be named, said it was all but official.
"Boston is one of the finalists for this meeting," said Moscaritolo.
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