The O’Connell Hotels and Prospera Hotels teams; management from general contractor W.E O’Neill and the design, architecture, and sub contractors teams.

The JW Marriott Anaheim hotel project at the GardenWalk celebrated a significant construction milestone last week with a “topping off” party for the project’s construction workers and general contracting team.

“Topping Off” is what it sounds like: the point at which the general contractor is done going vertical. The 12-story luxury hotel hit that mark last week, and the project owners, Ajesh Patel and the O’Connell family, feted 600 construction workers to a catered BBQ lunch in a cavernous ground floor space that will become one of JW Marriott’s ballrooms, complete with raffling off prizes such as TVs and tools.

The hotel owners also signed the last piece of steel to go in to the JW Marriott Anaheim. The next step is putting the flesh on the bones as the hotel is completed and prepared for its anticipated opening in early 2020.

It has been a long road for this much-anticipated project, which was the first 4-Diamond hotel project launched under the auspices of a TOT tax rebate program. Following its approval in early 2013, the project was subjected to harassment and years of delay by a merit-less lawsuit filed by OCCORD, the community organizing arm of the militant hotel workers union UNITE-HERE Local 11.  The nuisance lawsuit failed, but it succeeded in significantly driving up the hotel’s construction costs as the price of steel and other building materials spiked due to overseas demand – not to mention millions in legal fees and either litigation- and delay-related costs.

Furthermore, by pushing the JW Marriott completion years beyond its original 2014 opening date, the OCCORD/UNITE-HERE lawsuit cost the City of Anaheim somewhere in the neighborhood of $33 million in lost tax revenue. Empty construction site don’t generate any Transient Occupancy Tax revenue – the lifeblood of Anaheim public services.

Bill and Jean O’Connell part-owners of the JW Marriott Anaheim

There’s also the moral costs in terms of years of dishonest, unjust maligning of the project owners – long-time Anaheim business owners and community pillars – by Mayor Tom Tait, Councilman Jose F. Moreno and their progressive-Left allies.

The second 4-Diamond GardenWalk hotel will likely never be built due to the November 2018 passage of Measure L – which subject projects like the JW Marriott to what will be the country’s highest minimum wage. The JW Marriott was too far along to pull the plug, but the resulting sharp increase in labor costs and associated uncertainty as to Measure L’s legal reach has likely killed the second hotel project – a significant loss for Anaheim in terms of good jobs, needed tax revenue and augmented ability to attract high-end conventions to the Anaheim Convention Center.

Nonetheless, the “topping off” is a milestone worth celebrating as the JW Marriott comes that much closer to opening its doors to its first guests.