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LOS ANGELES-The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has signed a letter of intent to manage a 275-room hotel planned by the New York-based Related Cos. as part of the previously announced 1.2-million-sf, $1.8 billion Grand Avenue project. The hotel will occupy the first 20 floors of a 48-story tower designed by Frank Gehry that will feature luxury for-sale residences on the upper floors.

The hotel, expected to open in summer 2010, will be a key part of Gehry’s design for a Downtown neighborhood that would occupy a full city block of four acres. The neighborhood will also include other residences, retail, restaurants and public amenities directly across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which Gehry designed.

Stephen Ross, chairman and CEO of Related, comments that Mandarin Oriental “is highly sought after, but is extremely selective in its choice of venues.” Chairman Eli Broad of the Grand Avenue Committee, which is overseeing the project, calls it “great news for Grand Avenue and for Downtown Los Angeles.”

The entire nine-acre Grand Avenue mixed-use redevelopment comprises 450,000 sf of retail. A broad spectrum of retail is planned in Grand Avenue phase one, including a 50,000-sf specialty food market, a major bookstore, a food hall, a 35,000-sf health club, a 25,000-sf event facility, along with other retailers and specialty apparel shops. A collection of local, regional and nationally recognized restaurants will joint the project as well.

The Related Cos.”is in serious discussions” with many retailers and restaurateurs who “have strong interest in locating at Grand Avenue,” notes Kenneth Himmel, president and CEO of Related Urban Development. Himmel says the company anticipates announcing some of those commitments in the near future.

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