January 31, 2007

Mandarin Oriental will hang its flag on a 48-story tower designed by Frank Gehry to be built as part of the nine-acre Grand Avenue development in downtown Los Angeles. The 275-room hotel, scheduled to open in 2010, will fill the first 20 floors of the building. The Grand Avenue project also calls for 450,000 square feet of new retail space and up to 2,600 residences.

The Lodge at Rancho Mirage (Calif.), which was closed by RockResorts last August, will be transformed into the 244-room Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage, featuring a spa and 154 luxury residences. Gencom Group, which bought the property in 2005,will spend $500 million on the property, which is expected to open at year's end.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will purchase the remaining 93 years on the operating lease at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., for $78.5 million. The organization plans to build up the Hudson Valley airport and use it to relieve congestion at the New York City area's other facilities. The Port Authority should assume control of the airport by October, as long as a law is passed in New Jersey allowing PANYNJ to extend its operations beyond the 25-mile radius around the Statue of Liberty.

On Tuesday, Clear Registered Traveler announced plans to launch a Registered Traveler lane at Newark Liberty International Airport's Terminal 2, serving Virgin Atlantic Airways. Online enrollment began yesterday at flyclear.com, and airport enrollment is set to begin later this month. The private security lane will be fully operational by mid-March, according to Clear. The company has launched RT lanes at New York's JFK Terminal 7, as well as Indianapolis, Cincinnati, San Jose and Orlando international airports, serving more than 36,000 participants nationwide.

The British government has selected Manchester as the site of the country's first "super-casino." The northern city beat out a field of 16 rivals that included London, which planned to house the casino in its former Millennium Dome, and the seaside resort of Blackpool. The license allows Manchester to build a venue for up to 1,250 unlimited-jackpot gaming machines, as well as an entertainment complex with a range of facilities such as a multipurpose arena, a swimming pool, an urban sports venue, restaurants, bars, a nightclub and a hotel. The government plans to use the Manchester complex as a test model before granting more super-casino licenses.

According to its Hotel Investment Outlook released this week, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, a hotel investment services firm, is predicting the hotel building boom will continue through 2008, driven by an influx of new and nontraditional investors. In 2006, global hotel investment reached a record $72.5 billion, a 62.9 percent increase over 2005.

Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has pledged $12.3 million in state funds to Pittsburgh's $460 million Cultural District Riverfront Development Project, which will spring up on two city blocks along 8th Street between Fort Duquesne Boulevard and Penn Avenue. Expected to break ground this year and be completed within 10 years, the project will include retail, art spaces, restaurants, parks, an upscale hotel and a performing arts venue.