Update: W Hotel Creeping Forward at 15th and Chestnut

Mr. Fox

Plans seem to be moving ahead for 1441 Chestnut St., once slated to be a $420M Waldorf-Astoria before national and local real estate markets collapsed in 2008, fainting like depleted runners low on nutrients and water. New developers appeared before the Center City Residents Association at its August 28 zoning meeting, and members of the committee voted not to oppose the project. And according to a report in yesterday's Inquirer, the project has all necessary approvals to move forward.

The lot

Updated plans include two major changes to the former 2008 Waldorf plans, according to CCRA president Jeff Braff. The first is all parking will be below-grade, instead of the proposed seven-level above-grade plan associated with the Waldorf. And instead of 59 stories of both hotel and residential units, plans now call for a 52 story hotel with 755 guest rooms and meeting rooms, reflecting a change in height from 657 feet to 582 feet as well as the axing of residential space. The hotel will assume both the W and Element by Westin brands of Starwood Hotels. According to Braff, a team of local design individuals will meet to discuss design elements. The architects for the project are Cope Linder, he said.

Rendering of the old Waldorf Astoria project, from hotelchatter.com

“My speculation is given that they’ve [the developers] resurrected it,” said Braff, when questioned about the likelihood the project would manifest, “they wouldn’t be moving the way they’re moving if they weren’t going forward.”

Back in April, we told you about this site, where One Meridian Plaza stood until it burned in a 1991 fire and stood blighted until 1999, caught in the slush of litigation. Less than two weeks after our post, a May 3 Inquirer article documented the financial tale of the project over the past decade. Brook J. Lenfest of Brooks Capital Group L.L.C. of Bala Cynwyd purchased the site in October 2010 for $12M in auction, according to the Inquirer article.

Rendering of Home2 Suites at 12th and Arch, currently in progress

If/when this project becomes a reality, it marks another new hotel in Center City, as construction started this spring on a 246 room Home2Suites hotel nearby at 12th & Arch. 1441 Chestnut St. is close to the Convention Center, and if hotels are being constructed, it leads one to think that more people are coming to Philly, whether it be for business or pleasure (insert blasé joke here about mixing business with pleasure). That can mean a few things; but hopefully it means our local economy is on the up.

--Lou Mancinelli