Back in 1991, One Meridian Plaza burned, resulting in the tragic loss of three firefighters' lives. A grim reminder of this event, the burned out building remained across the street from City Hall until 1999 due to legal wrangling. After its demolition, the site turned into a surface parking lot. Soon it was joined by another surface parking lot at the corner of 15th & Chestnut, the site of the demolished Morris Building. In 2009, the Residences at the Ritz Carlton building was completed, finally filling the spot vacated by One Meridian Plaza. But the surface lot at 1441 Chestnut St. has remained, an embarrassing surface lot at one of our city's most prominent corners.

Current view

Years ago, it looked like the Waldorf-Astoria would be the answer for this surface lot. But the downturn scuttled the project. More recently, as in a couple of years ago, we learned that a new building would be rising here that would contain two distinct hotels, a fancier W Hotel and a slightly less fancy Element by Westin, both managed by Starwood Hotels. Back then they presented the project to CCRA, but nothing has moved forward since at the site.

Now, according to Plan Philly, Starwood is coming back to CCRA next week to present a more detailed version of their plan. The presentation will be informational only- they don't actually need any variances to build the thing, but it should answer most lingering questions about the project. From what we understand, the project, which will seek LEED certification, will only be possible thanks to a $33M tax increment financing (TIF) package approved last year. Hopefully, the tax break will be worth it in the long run.

Plan Philly also scored a sweet rendering of the project, designed by Cope Linder.

Project rendering from Plan Philly

Guessing that the Element hotel will be downstairs and the W will be upstairs. At least that's what the signage is telling us. The other thing that we're noticing is a distinct lack of retail space. We'd expect more than the 1,700 sqft planned, considering the corner we're talking about. Hey, think the Wendy's might want to relocate to a new space across the street?

Look for construction to start soon and for the hotels to open in the fall of 2017.