Inching forward on a plan to address its hotel room capacity issues, Boston will open a 1,054-room Omni Hotel across the street from the Boston Convention and Exposition Center in early 2021. While it alone will not solve South Boston’s room crunch, officials say it is a good start in the right direction and that it will hopefully stimulate more development of a similar nature.
A shortage of rooms within walking distance of the convention center has long been the bane of event organizers, with the venue coming in dead last among its peer cities for on-foot accessibility. The added costs of shuttles to more distant hotels in order to accommodate groups has steered some away from the city to more hotel-rich competitors in other locations, and city officials were eyeing significant declines in convention bookings between 2018 and 2021.
Boston has long been embroiled in a chicken-and-egg dilemma in which officials were angling for a massive expansion project on the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, while government leaders would not endorse convention center expansion because of a shortage in hotel rooms. For their part, hotel developers cited the need for a more robust convention business in the city before they would invest in new hotel rooms. Boston had a $1 billion expansion plan for its convention center that was heavily embattled and eventually halted in 2015 amid the circular question of whether the city needed a better convention center or more hotel rooms first.
Convention center officials have back-burnered the expansion plan in lieu of hotel development projects, of which it has several on the books so far.
For more info on the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, visit massconvention.com.