By Janice Hayes Kyser
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — The City Council gave final approval Feb. 3 to plans to build a controversial 168-room Marriott Hotel, the first full-service hotel in South Los Angeles.
The seven-story hotel project, which pitted city leaders, city planners and activists against each other will be built at 3685 S. Vermont Ave.
Plans call for the hotel to be completed before the 2028 Olympics and other major sporting events being held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum just up the street from the proposed hotel.
While Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, a staunch proponent of the project, calls it a victory for his commercially starved council district, activists and residents say it’s irresponsible for the city to be building hotels in the midst of a housing crisis.
A city Planning and Land Use Management Committee report shows the project on the site of the former Mary McCleod Bethune Public Library, will create up to 1,000 union construction jobs. Once construction is complete, the report indicates the hotel will need about 60 employees including 30 hospitality (union) positions and 30 management workers.
The report states the Marriott will be the only union and three-star hotel in Council District 8.
In addition, the report says the developer, Bethune LLC, which Harris-Dawson says is comprised of people of color, will create meeting and recreation space for the community, provide internships and management training programs and offer 15% off of hotel rooms to local residents.
The report says the developer will make $1 million in targeted investments to fund these neighborhood services. In addition, the city estimates the hotel will generate $1.6 million in annual tax revenue.
“This project will end the economic apartheid that has plagued our district,” Harris-Dawson said. “In addition to the tax base it will generate for our district, we will now be able to benefit from the upcoming Olympics in 2028 and other events being held in our city.”
Glafira Lopez, an activist with Strategic Actions for A Just Economy, said she is disappointed that city leaders dismissed residents’ concerns about traffic, pollution and gentrification.
“Public parcels of land are in short supply in LA,” Lopez said. “That’s why it matters so much how the city utilizes them.
“What this city and this community needs is housing, not another luxury hotel. We will continue to fight back. We are not going to make it easy for developers to disrupt our communities.”
Lopez said her group plans to monitor the Marriott project to make sure the development group keeps its promises concerning local hires, community space, environmental clean-up and job training.
In 2019, the City Council entered into an agreement with the developer to build the hotel on the site. But in December the South Los Angeles Area Planning Commission sided with the city’s zoning administrator in denying a permit for the project.
The City Council voted 12-1 Jan. 17 to override the denial and sent the matter to the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which approved the project Jan. 31, sending the matter back to the council for final action.
“This project will end the economic apartheid that has plagued our district.”
— City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson