by Sarah J.F. Braley | June 01, 2011
Local Update
The 383-room Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel is in the middle of a $20 million improvement project. A new fitness center will open in the fall, and renovations to all the guest rooms will begin in October, to be completed by spring 2012, in time for the hotel's 100th anniversary.
An $18 million revamp of all 803 guest rooms at the Westin Copley Place has been completed. The property, which has 54,000 square feet of meeting space in 29 rooms, is connected to the Hynes Convention Center by skybridge.

The Northern Avenue Liberty Wharf development has opened in the Seaport district, within walking distance of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The area offers great views and four new restaurants: the 20,000-square-foot Legal Harborside, a combination fish market and restaurant with rooftop event space; Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, with private dining space; Jerry Remy's Sports Bar and Grill, featuring 47 HD TVs and views of Boston Harbor; and Temazcal Tequila Cantina, serving a gourmet Mexican menu. All four have outdoor space.

Renovations to the public areas of the 391-room Boston Marriott Long Wharf will be completed this summer. The lobby, lounge and fitness center are being redone, and the Oceana restaurant is being turned into the 3,600-square-foot Harborview Ballroom hosting up to 120.

At the 400-room Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston, $6 million has been spent to renovate the 200 guest rooms in the East Wing. The work involved new décor and the installation of several energy-saving systems.

Due to open in January 2012 is a new $135 million wing for the Isabella Stew­art Gardner Museum, designed by Renzo Piano. In the meantime, the facility is unavailable for group events. Also next January, the refurbished Tapestry Room will reopen, and the facility will begin welcoming groups again.

On May 4, Caroline Kennedy officiated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony opening a new 30,000-square-foot-wing of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The entire facility, including the 5,600-square-foot Smith Hall, featuring dramatic views of the Boston skyline, can host up to 700 people for an event.

The owners of Suffolk Downs, a historic racing park in East Boston, continue to push their plan to build a $600 million resort complex that would offer a number of gaming options. In April, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC teamed up with Caesars Entertainment Corp. to work toward getting the project off the ground.

Long a resident of Newbury Street, the Capital Grille restaurant is moving to the Hynes Convention Center. The new, much larger establishment will open by the end of the summer and will offer three private dining rooms, state-of-the-art A/V and a patio for events.

A $25 million project is expanding the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. When the attraction reopens in June 2012, the museum will have doubled in size. Visitors will be able to explore three tall ships and view artifacts such as a tea chest from the revolutionary "party" that took place on Dec. 16, 1773.