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Lawsuit is newest roadblock for District's long-awaited hotel

The $550 million Marriott Marquis is stalled again.
The $550 million Marriott Marquis is stalled again. (Capstone Development)

"It's disappointing that we are forced into a position where the city's actions are so threatening to the economic viability of other properties of like kind," Jacobs said.

District officials dispute the claim that the new Marriott will glut Washington's 26,000-room hotel market.

"It's clear there's a shortage in peak season when we're trying to book conventions," said Greg O'Dell, chief executive of the convention center authority. "Anybody in our hospitality community understands that we need more rooms to support the convention center."

The District's attorney general, Peter Nickles, called the lawsuit "outrageous" and said that JBG should have contested the deal years ago. "These folks have no connection to the deal except coming in now, years later," Nickles said. "Anyone who looks at their lawsuit will conclude that it's being used to hold up a critical project for the city."

Marriott officials declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

Behind the scenes, D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) is trying to get the parties to resolve their dispute, according to those with knowledge of the talks. Evans declined to comment.

Capstone Development President Norman Jenkins, the project's minority partner, called the convention center hotel a "boon for the entire city" that would create hundreds of construction jobs for District residents.

Meanwhile, business owners in Shaw, already hit by the economic downturn, say they're increasingly cynical about their future.

"We thought we were going to have this hotel in 2007, in 2011, in 2012, and now when?" asked Debra Chatman, owner of Chatman's Divine Bakery and Cafe on Ninth Street, on the first floor of the convention center. Chatman leased space in 2004. "I'm still afloat by the grace of God."

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