Hilton Hotel Corp.'s name will no longer adorn L.A.'s new convention center hotel.
At a meeting in New York this week, Anschutz Entertainment Group Chief Executive Tim Leiweke let slip that his company is swapping L.A.-based Hilton in favor of Marriott International Inc.
Marriott plans to install a Marriott Marquis to handle convention goers and its Ritz Carlton brand for guests seeking higher-end services. The Ritz Carlton rooms will occupy the upper-most hotel portion of the 52-story tower, which will be topped-off by more than 200 condos.
KB Home, which is splitting the financing of the hotel with AEG and will sell the condo units, pushed for the change in brands, according to a source close to the decision.
The L.A.-based homebuilder believed it could get more for the condos if the hotel contained a Ritz Carlton and Marriott Marquis rather than a Hilton, the source said.
Calls to KB Home seeking comment weren't returned. Hilton spokeswoman Kathy Shepard confirmed that Hilton is no longer involved in the convention center hotel project.
It's unclear under what financial terms Marriott is taking over the hotel's management contract. However, in addition to other incentives, Hilton had agreed to lend AEG about $30 million toward the project's financing.
AEG spokesman Michael Roth said the company doesn't comment on speculation and he couldn't confirm Leiweke's comments during the meeting.
However, a member in attendance at the New York meeting, where boosters were pitching Wall Street investors and developers on downtown L.A., confirmed Leiweke's comments.
Leiweke told the group AEG is switching operators of the hotel, but said the identity of the new operator would be announced at a press conference in two weeks. However, during a slide show to the group, a rendering of the convention center hotel contained the Marriott and Ritz Carlton flags, according to the source at the meeting.
When Leiweke realized what happened, according to the source at the meeting, Leiweke said, "Oh well, I guess the cat's out of the bag now" and continued on with the presentation, which included an overview of the company's L.A. Live project.
The 1,100-room convention center hotel is the crown jewel of the L.A. Live project, which also includes a 7,100-seat theater, shops, restaurants, a nightclub, movie theaters and ESPN's new West Coast broadcast center. The project is being built on the roughly 1 square mile of surface parking lots surrounding the Staples Center, of which AEG is the principal owner.
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