Marriott 'Still Digesting' Baker’s Plan To Sell Hynes Convention Center
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan to sell the Back Bay convention facility to fund a 500K SF expansion of the newer Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in the Seaport advanced Monday through a Massachusetts Convention Center Authority executive committee. The full MCCA board is expected to vote Thursday on the plan.
The Hynes needs $200M in building improvements over the next decade to maintain its operating state, and hoteliers have pushed for BCEC expansion to host overlapping conferences and reduce the number of off nights at area hotels.
But three Marriott brands — the Westin, Marriott and Sheraton — with more than 3,100 rooms combined are connected to the Hynes and would arguably have the most to lose if the older convention facility shuttered.
If the company is concerned, it isn’t ready to say so publicly.
“We’re still kind of digesting the news at this point, so we can’t comment,” Marriott International Vice President Matthew LaBarre said Thursday at Bisnow’s Boston Hotel Summit.
Massachusetts Lodging Association President and MCCA board member Paul Sacco, who told Bisnow Tuesday he supported the BCEC expansion, expressed concern during Monday's executive committee over what a Hynes-less Back Bay would mean for neighborhood hotels.
The Hynes was significantly renovated in 1988 and appeals to conventions in colder months due to its connectivity to the three hotels and the Prudential Center and Copley Place mall.
But Spot On Ventures principal Robin Brown, who is a co-developer of the Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport under construction across from the BCEC, said the Hynes is not inviting due to it being set back from Boylston Street and behind a stone exterior.
“The Hynes is a tough, big monster, and it’s not user-friendly,” Brown said.
Brown, who has developed several Boston hotels, including the Mandarin Oriental, said he was previously part of a team that looked to buy the Sheraton and tailor it to connect better into the Hynes’ event space. He suggested Marriott explore a redevelopment in the style of Gaylord Hotels (which Marriott controls), where the hotel controls the convention center, if the Hynes sale moves forward.
“It would, to me, make the most sense,” Brown added.