Expansion set for convention center in D.C.

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WASHINGTON - Already the size of six football fields, the Capital City's convention center is going to get bigger.

The Washington Convention Center Authority (WCCA) approved a plan to expand the meetings and ballroom capacity of the 2.3 million-square-foot facility by 75,000 square feet.

The plan also calls for the development of a 1,200-room hotel adjacent to or near the year-old convention center that would include 100,000 square feet of meetings space.

The WCCA will spend the next six months determining whether the hotel can be built at a site adjacent to the center or in a nearby location.

Several issues related to land acquisition, cost, design, historical preservation and financing must be resolved, as well, the WCCA said.

"This is a tremendous step forward," said Thomas Mobley, the WCCA's CEO and general manager.

After some 10 years in development, the Washington Convention Center opened in April 2003.

Occupying six city blocks in downtown Washington, the gleaming glass-and-steel building is the largest structure ever built in the city.

With 725,000 square fee of exhibit space and 150,000 square feet of meetings space, it dwarfs the city's old 800,000 square-foot-convention center, which closed in March 2003.

To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to[email protected].

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