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Hotel under construction in downtown L.A. will be an InterContinental

Hotel under construction in downtown L.A. will be an InterContinental
An architect's rendering of the sky lobby that will be on the 70th floor of the InterContinental hotel in downtown L.A. (AC Martin)

The enormous new hotel being built in downtown Los Angeles will be an InterContinental, its developers announced Tuesday.

The nearly 900-room hotel will be the heart of a skyscraper called Wilshire Grand, soon to be the tallest building in the West at 73 stories. The tower set to open in 2017 will also have several floors of office space for rent and ground-level shops and restaurants.

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts will operate the inn on behalf of the building's owner and developer, Korean Air.

It is unclear whether the $1.1-billion structure rising on a city block at Wilshire Boulevard and Figueroa Street will soon become known as the InterContinental instead of the Wilshire Grand. Heather Cho, vice president of Korean Air's parent company, Hanjin Group, said the development would be referred to as the Wilshire Grand for the near future, at least.

The project is replacing the former Wilshire Grand Hotel, which was built in 1952 and had 896 rooms when it was closed by Korean Air in 2011 to make way for the new skyscraper.

When the new hotel is complete, it will be the largest InterContinental in the Americas, said Kirk Kinsell, president of the Americas for InterContinental Hotels Group, a global hospitality company based in Britain.

There are more than 180 InterContinental Hotels in the world, including one in the Century City neighborhood of Los Angeles. It has been 15 years since there was an InterContinental in downtown L.A.

The entrance to the new downtown InterContinental will be on the 70th floor of the Wilshire Grand tower. It will be the first hotel on the West Coast to have a "sky lobby" where guests check in before going down to their rooms, Cho said. The 70th floor will also have an outdoor public bar and observation deck.

There will be a restaurant on one of the top floors. Guest rooms will be on floors 31 through 69. Floors below will house offices for rent.

The InterContinental is expected to receive a four-star or four-diamond rating from arbiters such as Forbes Travel Guide and the American Automobile Assn., the developers said.

Hotel industry analyst Alan Reay said InterContinental should be a good fit for downtown.

"It's a very well-known international brand, and they will capitalize on the international market because of that name," said Reay, president of Atlas Hospitality Group of Irvine.

The downtown L.A. hotel market is thriving, he said.

"Occupancy is above 70% and hotels are pushing their rates up," he said. "That's bad for consumers but great for the owners."


Twitter: @rogervincent

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