After four years of renderings, pitches and site visits, real estate development and advisory firm LiveWorkLearnPlay has narrowed the list of hotel companies competing to put a new location in the Coliseum parking lot from nine to three.
LWLP spearheads the project to transform the Coliseum parking lot at the intersection of Orange and George streets into a 5.5-acre, roughly $430 million complex with apartments, businesses and a four-and-a-half-star hotel. The firm solicited nine letters of intent from hotel companies beginning in 2012, LWLP co-managing partner Max Reim said. As LWLP considered the strength of each company’s brand, international marketing and loyalty program, it eliminated six companies, he said. Reim, who is working under a May 15 deadline set by the city to determine a hotel partner, said he hopes to make an official announcement within the next 60 to 90 days.
“The value of investment to develop the hotel is between $100 [million and] $140 million,” Reim said. “We don’t just want to slap in another hotel that you see all over the place. Once we make a decision, we are married to them for 10 to 30 years.”
LWLP aims for the first phase of construction — which will create 400 mixed-income residential units, 30 retail spaces, the hotel and convention center — to begin by this summer, Reim said. The second phase will build roughly 250,000 square feet of office and lab space for biopharmaceutical companies and an additional 500 mixed-income apartment units, he added.
Though Reim would not identify the hotel companies in consideration, Starwood Hotels — which is based in Stamford and owns the four-and-a-half-star Westin Hotel brand — was one of the initial candidates, city economic development administrator Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81 said.
But news outlets in the city have speculated that Starwood is no longer in contention because it was purchased by Marriott last November, Nemerson said.
Reim declined to comment on speculation that LWLP is no longer in talks with Starwood.
“We are talking to three of the best,” Reim said. “Every decision that we’re going to take on this project we’re going to take very carefully and deliberately. There are a lot of stakeholders in the city and state level, and we want to make sure that everyone is happy, especially when it comes to the hotel.”
LWLP seeks a hotel that will contribute to the success of businesses in the complex by attracting visitors to the area, Reim said. City officials also consider the future hotel a key part of the complex, city spokesman Laurence Grotheer said. New Haven is short of sufficient hotel capacity to accommodate biotech company Alexion’s future visitors and employees, parents and students drawn by Yale’s expansion and city tourists, Grotheer said.
The city also needs LWLP to finalize a hotel partner in order to release all funds of a $21.5 million state grant to connect Orange and South Orange streets, Nemerson said. This grant will link the area around the Coliseum to Union Station and downtown by building commerce and residential spaces, Nemerson said. Gov. Dannel Malloy granted the city this funding in November 2014 to facilitate the Coliseum redevelopment.
Marriott’s purchase of Starwood last November made it the world’s largest hotel chain.
Correction, March 8: A previous version of this article incorrectly described LiveWorkLearnPlay as a real estate advisory firm; in fact, it is also a development firm. It also misstated the cost of the project, which is roughly $430 million.