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HARTFORD, CT-A host of state and city dignitaries were on hand for the groundbreaking of the Hartford Marriott Downtown Hotel. Developed by Waterford Group LLC, the 22-story property will open in 2005 as the headquarters hotel of the Connecticut Convention Center, which is 45% complete.

Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland said at the event, “Today marks a major step in the completion of Connecticut’s most exciting and important business and tourism development, one that I am fully confident will make the state a major competitor on a national scale and help enhance Hartford as a vibrant and thriving destination.”

The $77 million luxury hotel has been backed by a number of public and private financial institutions such as the Connecticut Development Authority, People’s Bank, Banknorth Connecticut, the Hartford Financial Services Group, the Savings Bank of Manchester, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Capital City Economic Development Authority and the City of Hartford.

“We are proud that the Hartford Marriott Downtown will be a key component of the largest conference and exhibition complex between Boston and New York,” said Waterford Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Len Wolman. “Waterford Group has embarked on a strategy of carefully planned growth to become a national player in the development and management of world-class properties and we are totally invested in demonstrating our commitment and capabilities here in Hartford.”

The Hartford Marriott Downtown will initially offer 409 guestrooms and eight luxury suites, three food and beverage outlets and more than 13,500-sf of meeting space. Eventually, hotel officials say the property will feature more than 700 rooms. There will also be a rooftop indoor swimming pool, spa and fitness center. The property is designed by Brennan Beer Gorman Architects of New York City.

The facility will feature an 8,500-sf grand ballroom that will be the largest hotel ballroom in Hartford. Nearby the new hotel and Connecticut Convention Center will be the Front Street retail, residential, entertainment project, part of the Adriaen’s Landing complex. The Waterford Group is the master developer of that project.

The Adriaen’s Landing development is part of a multi-faceted revitalization plan forwarded by Gov. Rowland. Other aspects of the revitalization program include the renovation of the landmark G. Fox Building as a downtown college campus, the expansion of the riverfront park system, the opening of the new Rentschler Field Football Stadium and the development of thousands of new parking spaces downtown. Also as part of the initiative, hundreds of new apartments are under construction downtown, other downtown housing is being renovated and construction is set to begin soon on the redevelopment of the Hartford Civic Center Mall, Waterford Group officials note.

The Waterford Group, which recently opened the $47 million Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa, has developed and managed more than two-dozen multi-flagged hotels, including the Marriott Residence Inn in Downtown Hartford. Waterford Hotel Group, a subsidiary of Waterford Group, will manage the new Hartford Marriott Downtown. Another subsidiary, Waterford Management, will operate the Connecticut Convention Center. The Waterford Group was the developer of the Mohegan Sun casino and resort in Uncasville, CT.

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