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Bureau: Downtown has county's highest room concentration

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Entering 2008, demand for hotel rooms in downtown San Diego was not keeping pace with the current supply of hotel units, as downtown had the county's highest room concentration, the San Diego Convention and Visitor's Bureau reported.

Despite what currently appears to be an oversupply of units two hotel projects, which combined would add more than 1,400 rooms to the area's hotel market, are currently underway near the convention center.

Recently Walt Fegley, president of San Diego-based Reno Contracting, announced the general contractor began construction of a new $50 million Marriott Residence Inn.

The 240-suite, 13-story hotel will be located at Sixth Avenue and J Street, and include more than 8,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and three levels of subterranean parking.

Additionally the post-tensioned, concrete building will include a street-level bar and lounge meeting rooms, banquet facilities, and a rooftop pool and deck overlooking Fifth Avenue.

"The overall design of the Residence Inn reflects a trend we are seeing not only in urban centers but also in emerging suburban lifestyle centers -- a combination of retail, restaurant and residential uses, which represents a more environmentally responsible sense of urban planning," said Scot McGill, principal of Awbrey Cook McGill, who designed the hotel.

The firm's design incorporates brick and metal exterior finishes that replicate the materials used in existing structures within the historic warehouse district, as the hotel is being constructed around the Brunswig Building, which was built in 1900.

According to Oliver Rose, assistant project manager for Reno, the small project site means storage of needed materials onsite will be difficult for Reno, as the site has no lay-down areas.

Because the project site is a block from Petco Park, Reno is restricted from working on the project on specific days or at certain times because of traffic control, representing another challenge during construction.

Major subcontractors on the project include: Helix Electric, Brian Cox Mechanical, Western Fire Protection, and JT Whimsatt.

The hotel is scheduled for completion by November 2009.

Significantly larger in size and cost than the Residence Inn is the 1,200 room, $335 million-plus Hilton Convention Center Hotel, which was more than 60 percent complete entering this year.

Located at the intersection of Harbor Drive and Park Boulevard, the project, when completed, will have transformed the former Campbell Shipyard site into a 32-story, 1.65 million square-foot structure.

Phelps Portman San Diego LLC, a combination of John Portman & Associates Inc., the project's architect, and Hensel Phelps Construction Co., the project's general contractor, is constructing the project.

Upon completion the new hotel will feature: a 385 foot tower, 106,000 square feet of meeting space, 5,360 square feet of retail space, a 23,082 square-foot health club, 1,200 private rooms, a 14,000 square-foot restaurant, a 4.3-acre public park and a water taxi dock, according to the Port of San Diego.

Construction on the new Hilton began in March 2006 with an expected opening date of late 2008.

During this year it is expected that another eight new hotel properties, with a combined 1,098 rooms, will open in the county, according to the Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

One of these properties is the Setai Hotel -- formerly the Diegan in downtown San Diego -- which would include 165 rooms.

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