Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., president of the Association of the United States Army, joined other dignitaries, to include Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., Council Chairman and Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray, J. W. Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO, Marriott International, Inc., and Greg O’Dell, president and CEO, Washington Convention and Sports Authority, to address and break ground at a ceremony that signaled the construction of the Washington Marriott Marquis Hotel.
The long-awaited convention center headquarters hotel, across 9th Street from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, will have 1,175 rooms, to include 46 suites, a 30,000 square foot ballroom and more than 53,000 square feet of exhibit space.
The hotel is scheduled to be completed in 2014.
In his remarks to an audience of over 400 invited guests in a tent located on the hotel’s future site, Sullivan said, "AUSA has been holding its Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington for 56 years and we moved to the new convention center when it opened in 2003."
Adding, "Since then, we have experienced tremendous growth in our attendance in support of our soldiers and military family quality-of-life programs."
This year, the meeting broke attendance records with 35,836 attendees – with industry and military displays located on 500,000 square feet of exhibit space located on the center’s lower floor.
Citing the Association’s close ties to Washington, Sullivan said AUSA was chartered as a non-profit, educational association in the District of Columbia 60 years ago.
Next year, Association officials said that for the first time, AUSA will occupy all the exhibit space in the center to include the hall on the second floor.
"With this growth," Sullivan said, "the need for a larger headquarters hotel next to the marvelous convention center has been clear to us – and I’m sure to the convention and tourism community in the District of Columbia – for some time."
Adding, "AUSA welcomes the additional hotel rooms and facilities that the new Washington Marriott Marquis Hotel will bring to a location that is in close proximity to the convention center."
Asking the audience to remember our soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen deployed and serving in war zones and hot spots around the world, Sullivan concluded by saying: "This new hotel will be enormous help to the entire city. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center is a first-class facility and it needs a headquarters hotel to complement it and the convention and tourism business.
"AUSA is proud to be a part of this historic occasion."