Last piece of LA Live puzzle in place as Marriott-Ritz opens

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The new JW Marriott/Ritz Carlton Hotel and Residences at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles as seen from poolside at the Figueroa Hotel. (License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)

A grand opening Tuesday at the new J.W. Marriott in downtown Los Angeles finds a bleaker economic climate than developers anticipated as the project began.

The blue-tinted glass tower that holds two hotels and condominium residences is the final piece of the puzzle for L.A. Live – a 27-acre entertainment center on the southern fringe of downtown.

Anschutz Entertainment Group financed construction before the housing market tanked. AEG has spent more than a billion dollars on the 54-story building, now the tallest residential high-rise in the city.

The Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels share a couple dozen floors with separate entrances and lobby areas. AEG says it’s sold about half the condominiums on the upper floors, although some buyers may drop out. That's one way the developer has adjusted its expectations for the tower's profitability.

Another is in the two hotels’ occupancy rates. Both have higher price points for rooms than other big downtown hotels. Meeting booking goals set earlier in the economic downtown won't be easy.

Still, the Marriott's first guests are already checked in. It's booked for the next three days. The Ritz-Carlton opens in a month.

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