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Hyatt wants site at convention center

Friday, July 10, 1998

By Dan Fitzpatrick, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Hyatt Hotels Corp. wants to build a hotel near the expanded David L. Lawrence Convention Center, a company spokeswoman said yesterday.

The new rooms could sit above the western edge of the larger center, near Ninth Street, Mayor Murphy added later.

One option is to build the hotel atop of the center itself. Another is to build it alongside the center, in the block east of Ninth Street.

Either way, the Hyatt could connect directly to the convention center.

A $267 million convention center expansion, part of an $809 million city-county development proposal known as Plan B, would nearly triple the amount of exhibit space while adding meeting rooms and a ballroom overlooking the Allegheny River.

If built, the Hyatt could be the second large hotel to feed the expanded convention center. Owners of the Doubletree Hotel Pittsburgh are considering a hotel tower of 500 rooms, straddling Penn Avenue next to the existing 618-room Doubletree and connecting to the convention center's southeast corner.

The Hyatt spokeswoman, K.C. Kavanagh, confirmed that representatives from Hyatt Development, a Hyatt subsidiary, have discussed a new hotel with the mayor's office. The talks took place this spring, said mayoral spokeswoman Margaret McCormick Barron, who described them as "preliminary."

Hyatt will not consider other sites Downtown, Kavanagh said. It wants to be near the convention center, and the company hopes to work out a deal, she added. Hyatt lost its Pittsburgh presence in 1996, when Host Marriott purchased a controlling interest in the Pittsburgh Hyatt Regency Hotel and reopened it as the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center.

Now, Hyatt is back.

In January, county commissioners approved a long-term lease agreement to build a $25.5 million Hyatt Hotel and Conference Center at Pittsburgh International Airport. The 300-room, 10-story hotel is expected to be ready by the turn of the century.

"It's very clear they want to be in the market," Murphy said.

The new Downtown hotel could range from 500 to 1,000 rooms. An expanded convention center, according to hospitality experts, could create a need for an additional 1,500 rooms Downtown.

"It's just a case of where they will be built," said Joe Kane, general manager of the Doubletree Hotel Pittsburgh.

If Hyatt wants a spot above the convention center, Kane said, such a project needed to be incorporated into the design of the expanded facility. But Kane, chairman of a new convention center design group, said he had not seen any proposals from Hyatt or the city.

"If it's going to be part of the center, someone better talk about it," he said.

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