Fireworks Launch Hotel Work : Marriott to Rise at Long Beach Airport Center

Times Staff Writer

It's not every ground breaking that has to wait until the 6:10 flies in from Chicago.

That happened July 25, across the street from Long Beach Airport and near its landing pattern, at the ground breaking for the Long Beach Airport Marriott Hotel. It was a pyrotechnic affair whose piece de resistance was the explosion, a few hundred feet above the ground, of four or five dozen aerial bombs.

The Jet America plane from Chicago was due at 6:10 p.m. but didn't get on the ground until about 6:30. Immediately, the fireworks began--witnessed by three small private planes being landed by what had to be nervous pilots.

A number of people among the 200 or so spectators were heard to comment that they had never seen daytime fireworks before and had wondered how they would look, but that the swirling patterns of gray and colored smoke, punctuated by hot white bursts as the devices exploded, made an unusually beautiful design against the blue sky.

(There was no danger, of course; a spokeswoman for the developer said the whole thing had been cleared with the Federal Aviation Administration and airport operations and was coordinated by the control tower, which was in two-way walkie-talkie contact with the fireworks shooters.)

The occasion signaled the construction start on the $32-million, eight-story, 311-room Long Beach Airport Marriott Hotel at Lakewood Boulevard and Spring Street in the Long Beach Airport Business Park. Completion is scheduled for the fall of 1986.

The developers of both the hotel and the business park, Signal Development Corp. and Carlton Browne & Co. Inc., said the hotel, on 6.2 acres, will be a Class A establishment with a full-service concierge floor and views of the adjacent Skylinks golf course, the hotel gardens and the airport.

The architect is Killingsworth, Stricker, Lindgren, Wilson & Associates, Long Beach; the general contractor is Swinerton & Walberg Co., Los Angeles; the landscape architect is the Peridian Group, Irvine, and the interior designer is Lee-Rovtar Associates, Santa Monica.

Focal point will be the 18-foot-high lobby ceiling accented by custom crystal chandeliers. The lobby entry will terrace down into a landscaped garden courtyard with lagoon, swimming pool and water cascades. There will be alcove galleries for original artwork and a piano bar adjacent to the lobby will serve continental breakfast and lunch

The hotel also will have a 140-seat, all-day, popular-price restaurant with a delicatessen buffet line in garden pavilions; an 80-seat gourmet specialty restaurant in traditional decor, and a 160-seat contemporary entertainment lounge with two island bars, hors d'oeuvre bar and dance floor.

The dignitaries shuffling their feet on the platform while the airliner landed were headed by Long Beach Mayor Ernie Kell and included Roland Wedemeyer, Signal Development president; Archie Bennett, president of Mariner Corp. of Houston, that will be the hotel's operator; B. J. Berntsen, Washington-based vice president of Marriott Corp.; Dick Brown, Carlton Browne board chairman, and Robert Harris, president of the same firm.

And the "anti-aircraft battery" was from Pyro Spectaculars of Rialto, the firm that did the fireworks for the Summer Olympics here.

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