Beyond encompassing well over 1,100 rooms, lush terraces and hip retail shops, developers of the new Washington Convention Center Hotel claim the establishment will give District residents what they need most jobs.

After breaking ground in November, construction of the new $520 million, four-star Marriott Marquis Hotel on Ninth Street and Massachusetts Avenue is now underway. Developers say with the building’s erection, nearly 1,600 construction jobs will open. Additionally, once it’s completed, over 1,000 hospitality jobs will be available, according to a Marriott Hotel’s press release.

Hensel Phelps Construction, the general contractor of the project, said they have a series of goals and partnerships to ensure small business and minority involvement.

“You have to look at each aspect of the work and figure out how small minority businesses can participate,” Charles Eaton, the director of diversity and project development at Hensel Phelps told the AFRO in a recent interview. He added that among the company’s biggest contracts is one with a Black local business.

Hensel Phelps’ outreach team has also worked with the mayor’s office and organizations such as the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) to draw contracts with other small businesses across the city.

Additionally, the company aims to gain local employment by working jointly with organizations such as the Department of Employment Services, the Office of Apprenticeship Information and Training and other workforce development organizations.

In the end, they hope to accomplish a series of local resident participation goals, with District residents participating in: 25 percent of the total journey worker hours, 60 percent of all apprentice hours by trade and 60 percent of skilled and unskilled laborers hours.

“Our commitment is to not only our company hires D.C. residents, but also to monitor our subcontractors to make sure they are hiring them,” Eaton said.

The hotel, which will complement the existing convention center across the street, is set for completion in spring 2014. It will be one of only four Marriott Marquis Hotels in the country.

The establishment is set to include 1,175 rooms, 46 suites and over 100,000 square feet of meeting and assembly space. Visitors will also enjoy six food and beverage outlets including specialty restaurants, a sports bar and a Starbucks. An underground tunnel connecting the hotel to the convention center is also set to be constructed.

Eaton said the creation of the hotel is just one step in rejuvenating the Shaw community. He added that eventually, vacant buildings nearby will be converted to trendy restaurants and coffee shops.

Despite the heavy changes underway, Eaton said residents have still been supportive.

“I have to take my hat off to the Shaw neighborhood,” he said. “They’ve been waiting a long time for something to happen over there. They have been extremely good to us. They really have been working with us to see this project come to reality.”


Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor