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Despite Sour Forecast, Kyser Sees Hotel Stays as Bright Spot for Downtown in 2010

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, February 19, 2009, at 06:28PM
CCA Downtown Economic Forecast Eric Richardson [Flickr]

LAEDC's Jack Kyser presents at the 7th Annual CCA Downtown Economic Forecast.

At the Central City Association's Downtown Economic Forecast, Jack Kyser warned the audience that his story wasn't going to be pretty. "If you want to leave now, you may," he offered.

Kyser, founding economist at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, went on to show slide after slide of negative numbers. Despite the dour predictions, he did offer Downtown some glimmers of hope, particularly in the areas of professional services and tourism.

Kyser expects to see Downtown hotel stays increase dramatically in 2010 as the Convention Center hotel at L.A. Live enters operation. He cited increased convention and meeting bookings as "very powerful for the Downtown hotel market."

Los Angeles' convention business has long suffered for the lack of an adjacent hotel, and the under-contruction tower will add roughly 1,000 rooms between the J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton.

Kyser also pointed to professional services as a growth area for 2009 and 2010, saying that Downtown's concentration of architecture and engineering firms makes it well positioned to benefit from new projects funded by the federal stimulus package.

When asked about residential prices, Kyser seemed to think that Downtown developers still needed to get more realistic about their asking prices. He pointed at the example of the recent Rowan auction as a success story brought about by repricing. "If you price it right, they will come," he said.

For those who do find a bargain, Kyser said that today's interest rates make this a good time to buy. "If you can qualify for a mortgage, now's the time to go out and start looking." He said that he did not expect to see interest rates move lower.

The lunch-time event, held at the Omni Hotel, was the ninth annual forecast hosted by the Central City Association.

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