LONG BEACH, CA-R.D. Olson Construction of Irvine has started work on a 138-room AVIA Hotel, a boutique property at the Pike at Rainbow Harbor in the city’s entertainment district. The $27 million project, by Wichita, KS-based LodgeWorks, is under way at the corner of Bay Street and Chestnut Avenue, near the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.

The seven-story property will include a rooftop pool with a deck that overlooks the Pike at Rainbow Harbor, which is expected to serve as a vantage point for the Long Beach Grand Prix.The AVIA lobby will feature an interior tree sculpture that replicates a mini-forest, a courtyard deck and a bar lounge. In-room luxuries will include spa-inspired bathrooms, high-definition flat-screen televisions and iPOD connections.

The new features designed into the AVIA are signs that “hotels are becoming more complex given new technology that needs to be employed as an intricate part of their design,” observes Robert Olson, CEO and president of R.D. Olson Construction. The firm was founded in 1979 and has grown into one of the largest general contracting companies in California, having built hotel properties such as the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa Resort in Ojai, CA; the Marriott NewportCoast Villas in Newport Beach, the Brentwood County Club in Los Angeles and morethan 300 restaurants nationwide.

The hotel is being designed by the architectural firm of Jeff Krehbiel Associates of Wichita, with interiors by Colum McCartan, who designed Hotel Vitale and Hotel Adagio in San Franciscoand Le Parker Meridien in New York City. Construction is slated to be complete in late spring of 2009.

Over the past decade, more than $1 billion has been invested in retail, commercial and residential development in the Long Beach downtown and waterfront, according to local government officials. The addition of an AVIA is expected to be a major asset to the city’s convention and meetings market as well as for business and leisure travelers.

AVIA is a new boutique hotel collection by LodgeWorks that is set in vacation and urban areas. The company’s other flags include Residence Inn and Summerfield Suites Hotels. Others in thenew AVIA collection are slated for Savannah, GA, Napa, CA and north Houston.

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