UCLA's much-debated plan for a conference center and 250-room hotel in the heart of the campus overcame previous skepticism among some UC regents and won unanimous approval Tuesday from an important university panel.
The vote by the regents' grounds and buildings committee is expected to be easily confirmed Thursday by the full regents board. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said he was gratified by the support for the Luskin Conference and Guest Center, named after alumni Meyer and Renee Luskin, who gave $50 million for the seven-story facility.
"I'm happy because we are moving ahead. We want to get this built," Block said at the meeting here. He said he hoped construction would start next summer with completion in 2016.
A potential hurdle, however, remains: Nearby hoteliers and Westwood activists contend the UCLA center will pose unfair competition since it will not charge occupancy taxes. They also say the project will clog the area with extra traffic.