Prefabricated hotel rooms already outfitted off-site with furniture, carpets, curtains and artwork will be hoisted onto the framework of two Marriott hotels in downtown Hawthorne beginning Monday in a project closely watched by developers across the country.
The $86 million development, just two miles from SpaceX, will feature a Marriott Courtyard with 221 rooms and a 133-room TownePlace Suites extended-stay hotel on an L-shape parcel at the corner of Hawthorne and El Segundo boulevards.
All the rooms and bathrooms already have been built and will simply be stacked up on the site vertically and connected to electric, plumbing and other utility lines. The project is Marriott’s largest prefabricated development yet.
“For the past four months we’ve been under production on these modular units in a factory in Boise, Idaho,” said Brad Wagstaff, owner of Mogul Capital, a Marriott and Hilton franchisee. “There is a lot of interest in this project nationally among developers looking at the big push in modular construction that Marriott is doing.
“This project is going to come out of the ground very fast.”
Mogul Capital leased the site last year, after gaining early approval from city leaders who are eager to bring modern development to the dilapidated downtown Hawthorne Boulevard strip. Utility lines were installed in the summer, and the base podium was built in the fall at the site of the former police station adjacent to City Hall.
The City Council finalized the deal on Thursday, selling the 4.2-acre site to Mogul Capital for $7.4 million.
On Monday, a crane will arrive and modular units waiting in a nearby parking lot will be stacked and connected to utility lines. By Friday, about 100 rooms are expected to be in place, Wagstaff said.
The whole arrangement of 354 rooms and shared, oversized amenities — including a spa, pool, meeting rooms, a fitness center, barbecue area, sports court and restaurant — is expected to be open for business by summer.
For locals, an as-yet-unnamed standalone restaurant also will go up on the corner of Hawthorne and El Segundo boulevards.
“This is arguably one of the fastest hotel projects in the U.S.,” Wagstaff said. “Artwork has already been picked and installed. We’re using a Beach Boys’ surf theme.”
Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, along with family friend Al Jardine, grew up in Hawthorne and wrote their first big Beach Boys hit, “Surfin’,” there. Like so many South Bay teens of that era, they cruised along Hawthorne Boulevard for fun.
But the boulevard is a shadow of what it was in those years. A patchwork of mismatched small retailers, services and eateries line the strip.
Across the street from the Marriott project sits the city’s most blighted parcel — the roughly 1 million-square-foot Hawthorne Plaza mall.
Mostly vacant and oozing an apocalyptic vibe since its closure in the 1990s, city leaders have struggled to get the mall’s owner, Charles Co., to rehabilitate the property. Plans submitted last year to raze the building and erect a large mixed-use project have stalled.
But Elon Musk’s rapidly expanding companies nearby helped spur a resurgence, attracting Los Angeles Ale Works and Urth Caffe, among others.
Musk’s SpaceX, a Tesla design studio and The Boring Co.‘s offices and test-tunnel project share a complex on Crenshaw Boulevard between 120th Street and Jack Northrop Avenue. A dense apartment building across the street from SpaceX was approved in October despite opposition from the rocket maker, which argued the industrial corner isn’t a safe place for hundreds of small apartments and that it would disrupt business.
The Marriott development is an encouraging turn of events for the flailing boulevard, Hawthorne officials believe, potentially triggering interest from other upscale projects. The city expects to collect up to $3 million annually in new transit-occupancy tax revenue from the hotels.
“We should have 100 rooms going up in December, 100 in January, and 100 in February,” Wagstaff said. “The last rooms will be installed the last week of March.”
Marriott International opened its first hotel built with modular rooms in late 2016 in Sacramento County — the 97-room Folsom Fairfield Inn and Suites. Marriott plans to quickly ramp up its experiment with prefab construction, contracting for a total of 50 new hotels using the method this year.
Modular buildings require less skilled labor, are much quicker to erect, and are expected to be increasingly popular among developers because of new improvements in the technology.
Guerdon Modular Buildings constructed the Hawthorne Marriott modules using assembly-line production in a climate-controlled plant.
“It’s a project that we’re very happy to have designed, and I think the city of Hawthorne will love it,” Wagstaff said. “It will represent the quality that’s inherent in these brands. We tried to improve the entire block so that it doesn’t look like a bunch of pieces that weren’t coordinated and planned together.”
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