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Capital Business
Posted at 11:55 AM ET, 02/15/2012

Contractors hit, miss goals for Convention Center hotel construction hiring

Dating back to the construction of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and continuing with the Nationals’ ballpark, District officials have struggled to ensure that District residents are hired for as much of the city’s construction work as possible.

Today the city and its partners on the Marriott Marquis convention center headquarters hotel are releasing data on 12 months of construction, and from an initial look at the returns, the city is achieving some of its self-imposed goals but missing others.

Construction began in November 2010 on the 1,167-room, $550 million hotel, with a development team of Quadrangle Development and Capstone Development and the general contractor Hensel Phelps. At groundbreaking, the work was expected to last 42 months, with completion in 2014, and create about 1,500 construction jobs.

Because the project is financed with $272 million in District money and is being built on city-owned land, District officials tried to create a pipeline of trained workers for the project and push for their private partners to hire them. The city created a $2 million job fund to prepare city residents for work. The D.C. Department of Employment Services opened a hiring office on site and funneled candidates from job fairs and training programs.

Overall, District residents worked 48,580 hours on the project during the 12 months ending in January, 42 percent of the total, according to the data released today.


A rendering of the $550 million Marriott Marquis convention center hotel currently being built at the corner of Ninth Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW, across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. (Courtesy of Capstone Development LLC)
In previous large construction projects, the city had an easier time finding city residents qualified for apprenticeship work than for journeymen positions that require more experience and earn higher pay. That seems to be holding true at the Marriott Marquis, where the project is beating a goal for apprenticeship hours but falling just short of one for journeyman hours. District apprentices worked 15,519 hours, 77 percent of the total, beating a goal of 60 percent. District journeymen worked 12,915 hours, 22 percent of the total, just short of a 25 percent goal.

The numbers when D.C. built the Nationals’ ballpark were very similar, with District residents working 72 percent of the apprenticeship hours and 27 percent of the journeymen hours through the bulk of the project.

And as with other project, District residents are at least performing a larger portion of laborer work, having worked 51 percent of skilled laborer hours and 100 percent of common laborer hours.

There have been 67 “new hires” for the Marriott Marquis — meaning workers that companies did not already have on staff — and of those 43, or 64 percent, were District residents. For the Nationals Ballpark about 51 percent of new hires were from the District.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and members of the D.C. Council are expected to receive a more thorough hiring update Wednesday evening.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

By  |  11:55 AM ET, 02/15/2012

Tags:  Marriott Marquis, convention center hotel, Vincent C. Gray

 
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