Developers announce deal with city, labor to tear down, rebuild Wilshire Grand Hotel

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Shirley Jahad/KPCC

The hotel will include a small public space along 7th and Figueroa.

Developers are moving forward on plans to tear down the old Wilshire Grand Hotel and build a new luxury hotel and office tower rising up over the 110 Freeway. Today developers announced agreements with the city of Los Angeles and with labor unions to build the new office tower and luxury hotel at 7th and Figueroa in the space where the Wilshire Grand now sits.

L.A. First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner says it’s a win all around. “First class amenities. A modern building. Needs change from when this building was built. The new building will bring in jobs. It will bring in tax revenue for the city. And it's good all around.”

Beutner also says it's the first plan to build a high-rise office building in downtown Los Angeles in more than 20 years. The plan includes twin sky scrapers: a 65-story office tower and 45-story hotel.

Under agreements announced today, current hotel workers will get some severance pay while the new building is in construction. Construction jobs will be union and jobs in the new hotel will be union as well.

Developers plan to start tearing down the old Wilshire Grand at the end of next year and open the new project in 2015. Backers say the project will create some 12,000 jobs during construction, and nearly 5,000 permanent jobs.

The downtown development plan goes before the L.A. Planning Commission tomorrow.

Developers and city officials say the hotel tax will remain in place at the Wilshire Grand project. That stands in contrast to the J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton development in the nearby downtown L.A. Live. The city gave those hotels a partial wavier on the bed tax for several years.

Economists and planners have long said L.A. needs more downtown hotel space to draw more tourism and convention business. But this project offers no net gain in hotel rooms.

Jim Thomas is CEO of Thomas Properties, the lead developer along with building owners Korean Air. Thomas says the project does bring more luxury, four-star, modern hotel space to downtown Los Angeles that he says international business travelers expect.

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