A major update and expansion for Century City's storied Century Plaza Hotel was approved back in early 2013, but work will only finally get started on March 1, 2016, developers announced yesterday. The project will remodel the 1966 hotel, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, pare its rooms down to 394 from 726 and add 63 new residences. But that's just the start: developer Next Century associates will also add two 46-story residential towers behind the hotel, an open-air lobby, public plazas and fountains, and a massive outdoor garden that extends more than two acres. The garden will be flanked by 100,000 square feet of restaurants and retail.

The two towers behind the hotel were a "late-in-the-game addition" to the project that spared the crescent-shaped hotel from demolition (it was one of Reagan's Western White Houses while he was in office and Nixon celebrated the moon landing there). The Pei Cobb Freed-designed towers will have a total of 290 luxury units between them. A press release maintains that saving the hotel by adding the towers was a compromise so successful that the project "was unanimously approved without any public opposition."

The project's public space component, which will have plazas and fountains and stretch out to Avenue of the Stars, is an attempt to make pedestrian-unfriendly Century City a little more appealing to people on foot. The property is set to get a Purple Line subway stop on its edge.

The $2.5-billion Century Plaza renovation will officially begin on March 1, when the hotel will close. Hyatt, which operates the Century Plaza, will be leaving, though it's not been announced who will take their place. (When the hotel renovations are complete, the Century Plaza will be a five-star joint.) Next Century expects the whole thing to be complete in early 2018.

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