A Downtown Hotel’s Blue Mood

In 1987, City Centre Development announced plans for a mammoth project overlooking the 110 Freeway. Known as Metropolis, it would include three office towers, 300,000 square feet of retail space and a 500-room hotel.

The project endured literally decades of problems, delays and changes, and in February 2014 a new developer, a subsidiary of China’s Greenland, finally broke ground on a four-tower, $1 billion project. Last month move-ins began for the first Metropolis condominiums. At the end of this month, guests will begin checking in to the next part of the project: a 350-room Hotel Indigo.

The 18-story hotel at 899 Francisco St. is scheduled to open Friday, March 31. Winston Yan, vice president and chief technical officer for Greenland USA, said the hotel, which is part of the InterContinental Hotel Group, both capitalizes on a booming Downtown hotel market and complements the 38-story condominium tower.

“In condos, you have relatively limited space. If you want to receive guests or entertain people, a hotel facility would be kind of a nice addition,” Yan said.

The project is expected to create roughly 130 jobs (with 20 more for certain events). It has both both union and non-union staff.

Like the rest of Metropolis, the building is designed by the architecture firm Gensler, and has a green-tinted glass exterior. The hotel is pitched at business travelers as well as people coming to events at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

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The interior space, designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates, is intended to evoke Los Angeles of the past, particularly the first 40 years of the 20th century, according to General Manager Raymond Vermolen. For example, the ground-floor restaurant incorporates Art Deco and Beaux Arts touches such as wide arches. Photos from the 1920s and old Hollywood are in some bedroom and the elevators.

The establishment arrives as the Downtown hotel scene is shifting. The 900-room InterContinental in the Wilshire Grand replacement is scheduled to open this year, as is a modernized Hotel Figueroa with 284 rooms. A luxury Park Hyatt is also under construction in South Park, at the Oceanwide Plaza complex.

Vermolen said the Indigo’s large amount of meeting and event space will help set it apart. The building has roughly 20,000 square feet of gathering space, in the form of ballrooms, conference rooms and open atriums on the third and fourth floor.

Vermolen and Yan expect the hotel will appeal to people who have business at the Convention Center. Yan also sees an opportunity to welcome travelers in town for happenings such as the Grammys or sporting events at L.A. Live — upcoming events expected to draw big crowds include the 2018 NBA All-Star Game.

The Downtown establishment’s 350 rooms is larger than the average Hotel Indigo’s 200 rooms. Vermolen said this is in part due to the size of the Metropolis project, and in response to the large amount of meeting space.

Rooms are roughly 400 square feet and start at $225 a night. They have wood floors, flat-screen TVs and large wardrobes, plus white-tiled bathrooms and oversized showers.

The prices are comparable to the rest of the Downtown hotel market, according to Bruce Baltin, managing director with the brokerage firm CBRE. Baltin said the Hotel Indigo will be complementary to Downtown’s existing hotel stock, and fits with the quality of other upcoming projects. He added that its proximity to the Seventh Street/Metro Center station and the Financial District will help attract guests.

Despite the increase in the number of Downtown Los Angeles hotel rooms, the community stills lags behind regional convention rivals such as Anaheim and San Diego, said Bud Ovrom, executive director of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Any expansion of rooms and meeting space, he added, will benefit both the Convention Center and surrounding businesses, as it makes Los Angeles more appealing for event planners.

“I think the hotel is going to have an immediate impact,” Ovrom said. “I’m sure the Indigo will do extremely well very quickly.”

Hotel amenities include a fourth-floor deck with a pool, fire pits and a gym. There are two dining spaces, with a New American restaurant on the first floor and a bar/lounge on the top floor called 18th Social.

Visitors also have an easy walk to the restaurants and entertainment venues at L.A. Live. Shopping and dining options are also nearby at the FIGat7th mall.

Vermolen expects it will take about about a year to ramp up to near-capacity operations. In the short term, he said, the hotel is aiming to book more group events and conferences than it will in the future.

The hotel arrives as construction on the two remaining Metropolis towers continue. The second phase is expected to open in late 2018. That will consist of 40- and 56-story condominium towers holding a total of 1,250 condominiums.

nicholas@downtownnews.com

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