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BOSTON-The ground was finally broken for the development of the Westin hotel that will be joined to the new Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The 790-room facility will serve as the headquarters hotel for the new convention center and was considered crucial to the success of the $800-million taxpayer financed center.

“The new Westin headquarters hotel will secure the success of our world-class convention center,” says Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Together, these two cornerstones of the South Boston waterfront will anchor our tourism industry and further establish the area as a vibrant, 24-hour neighborhood.”

The developers of the hotel, being built on South Boston’s waterfront, secured the final $120 million in funding they needed to move forward with the project this past February. The hotel was initially supposed to open with the center this year, but the notoriously difficult hotel financing market, coupled with the recent recession, forced the developers to delay its construction.

Carpenter & Co., Inc. is a co-developer of the project along with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and local development partners Stephen Karp, Steven Fischman, Joseph Fallon and Joseph O’Donnell. The financing commitment was provided by the lead lender Scotia Capital, a member of Scotiabank Group with eight participating banks, supplements funds previously committed by the development team, which is called Boston Convention Center Hotel LLC, and Starwood Hotels. It also supplements the recent $15-million loan from the city.

“By beginning the construction of this hotel, Starwood, international banks, lending institutions and prominent local developers have validated our confidence in the long term success of the BCEC and the South Boston waterfront. These entities would not be making this investment if they did not believe Boston was going to be a winner in the convention’s marketplace,” says James E. Rooney, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority executive director.

The hotel is now scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2006 and will be integrated with the new convention center, providing open space and a plaza. The hotel will be constructed in two phases, with the first phase featuring 790 guest rooms and 32,000 sf of meeting space including a 15,000-sf ballroom. An additional 330 rooms are planned as part of a second phase of construction. The new Westin Hotel will bring Starwood’s portfolio of Westin, Sheraton and Four Points by Sheraton hotels to 17 in the Greater Boston market.

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