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L.A. sweetens convention pot with new hotel

The city of Los Angeles took a big step forward on its long road to attracting more convention business when a competing hotel last week dropped its plan to challenge a big public subsidy package for a new hotel at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In a deal brokered by L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a former union negotiator, the Westin Bonaventure will now have the option of converting up to 400 hotel rooms into residential condominiums. Union workers there won a guarantee that no jobs at the Bonaventure would be lost until three years after the condo conversion.

The agreement clears one more obstacle for the backers of the L.A. Live development, which plans to put a four-million-square-foot sports and entertainment district next to Staples Center and the adjoining L.A. Convention Center. The development is planned to include a cinema complex, the Grammy Museum, an ESPN venue, a nightclub, restaurants and a 1,100-room Hilton hotel, which will be designated the Los Angeles Convention Center Headquarters Hotel. The hotel is planned to include luxury suites and 160,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The L.A. City Council has already approved up to $290 million in subsidies for construction of the 55-story hotel.

Dignitaries from entertainment giant AEG, which operates Staples Center as well as other entertainment complexes and sports teams, broke ground on L.A. Live last month. The L.A. Live district will be developed within an eight- to 10-year time frame.

The L.A. Convention Center has been plagued by problems for years, including lack of a hotel nearby and the specter of the 1992 riots.

Photo by Glenn Cormier/LACVB

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